Old Red Lion, London – until 2 February 2019
Liv Warden’s play Anomaly, inspired by the Weinstein scandal, focuses on the family of a media mogul who’s been caught up in a scandal that can’t be hushed up by PR. Daughters Piper (Natasha Cowley), Penny (Katherine Samuelson) and Polly Preston (Alice Handoll) are used to his affairs but family and family reputation always come first.
They’ve had a privileged upbringing on the back of their father’s wealth but given his success and the gossip that surrounded him, they were exposed to press attention from an early age. It’s a small price to pay for the success they now themselves enjoy working in the business. All except Polly who is in rehab.
Warden’s play paints a picture of three women who are all products of their upbringing. But are they the victims of a controlling father whose success has brainwashed them into loyalty or complicit in his behaviour by helping protect him over the years?
The problem is that the play doesn’t stop at making daddy Preston a man who abuses his power to have sex, it also makes him a wife beater and much more which weights the debate.
Telling the story through the daughters’ eyes when they are all in different parts of the world creates structural problems resulting in a lot of conversations over the phone.
Conversations with voices which stand in for partners, lawyers, board members, press and a myriad of other characters also get overused at the expense of more meaningful interaction.
What you end up with is a series of snapshots without delving properly into the dynamics of the family and their experiences and the media circus overpowers the drama drowning out any tension or pathos.
Katherine Samuelson in Anomaly, Old Red Lion Theatre (Courtesy of Headshot Toby)
It is an interesting idea to look at #metoo from this angle and the cast does really well given they mostly are working opposite disembodied voices.
But in the end the isolation that creates becomes a problem a makes Anomaly a cold play that doesn’t properly dive beneath the surface.