There is a raw engagement with the material from the cast and its creative team that pours into the production, making it a moving and poignant evening
It’s 6am. News has just reached the three daughters of Phillip Preston, media mogul and film-industry powerhouse, that he has been arrested for assaulting his wife, and their mother.
What ensues, shows three very different women, three very different sisters, trying to grab at the pieces that remain of their family and company empire over an electric 24 hours.
Our three sisters are Piper, Penny and Polly. The eldest, Piper (Natasha Cowley) is now the head of the Preston Company struggling to keep the board and her family together; Penny (Katherine Samuelson), a glamorous PR-guru and actress, and the youngest, Polly (Alice Handoll) who has just left rehab and has not spoken to her elder sisters for two years. All three show great conviction in their characterisations. Handoll is fittingly pixie-like as the drug addict runt. Samuelson gives an eerie professionalism as the alluring Kardashian-esque Penny. And Cowley delivers a real punch as the stoic Piper in a monologue that sees her whole world crumble – fragilely over the phone.
Director Adam Small places the sisters on individual boxes, rotating them like a news reel, as each one tells a piece of their side of the story. It is telling however, that these women barely interact with each other except once and that is not even in person. This asks of us who would we support, defend or attack? The ripples of Philip Preston, who is significantly absent from the stage, reach his children in a destructive and head-on wave.
Fuzz Guthrie’s sound design envelops us in the world of the paparazzi, stylised and with a sense of ridicule at the press. There are the voices of the board, celebrity interviewers and game show hosts; all of which possess a sense of the surreal. Of hyperactivity. Charlotte Dennis’ set design is brusque white – clean, hollow and artificial. It is stark, and Dennis’ set reads like a blank newspaper’s front page; poised for the top story to unravel on it. Drowning it’s cast in threatening white, this is a world that is shiny, metallic and dangerous.
There is a raw engagement with the material from the cast and its creative team that pours into the production, making it a moving and poignant evening.
Liv Warden takes the #MeToo Movement and runs with her own emotive response to create a story of the women left behind at the eye of the storm, under the spotlight, and the decisions the Preston women must make for the ‘good of the family’: “Swallow everything. Protect the family. Prestons first.”
Images: Courtesy of Headshot Toby
ANOMALY by Liv Warden,
Old Red Lion Theatre 8 January – 2 February
Wild Child Productions
Box Office: https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/anomaly.html
Reviewer Emma Zadow is an actor and theatre maker from South London. She trained at Rose Bruford College in Theatre and Performance.