• Philip Dehany

REVIEW: Anomaly (Old Red Lion)


If you can’t find work. Create your own.

That’s commonly becoming the go-to piece of advice to anyone now working in the oversaturated theatre business.


But it doesn’t only apply to those who have trained and are dedicated or passionate and just waiting for their break.


For some, the struggle is that there isn’t work out there that speaks to them. These people have a voice, and don’t feel they are being represented.


A hugely under-represented voice is that of the female playwright.


In an interesting article I read recently that said “many UK theatres still seem to see plays by women as a risk or ‘niche’.” *



Step forward Liv Warden. A head strong, determined young women, who knows her voice and has a story to tell.


A story, by chance that happens to currently be incredibly topical.


“It’s 6am. News has just broken that Philip Preston, media mogul and film-industry powerhouse has been arrested for assaulting his wife. His three daughters are left with the fallout”.


Sound familiar?


In an astute effort to show why this story needs to be told now. The ingenious marketing team behind WildChild Productions have given Anomaly the strap line:


Post-Weinstein

Post-Spacey

Pre-Preston


But don’t be fooled. This is not a savvy cash in on a prominent and news worthy topic. This play is the result of three years of work by an intelligent women.


The women is Liv Warden, who has certainly put in the hours. Liv Warden became a member of the Soho Writers Lab in 2016. She then conceived ‘Anomaly’ whilst on a playwriting course at the National Theatre. Liv Warden then finished the play at the Arcola Theatre playwriting course. I keep saying her name, because it is a name that deserves to be heard. Liv Warden. A name I am sure everyone will soon enough know. And the name of someone I can proudly call my friend.


As I take my seat to watch the fully staged production of her debut play, I spot her, note pad in hand in the corner of the sixty seat venue. “I haven’t slept in two weeks” she says. Referring, naturally, to the volume of work it has taken within limited time and resources to rehearse three actresses to perform her debut writing.


The three actresses which I point out afterwards are “perfectly cast” and “brilliant”.


I’m nervous. More nervous perhaps than Liv herself. Because I do consider her a friend, and I do respect her as a peer within this incredible tough industry. I’m willing her to do well. But I’m anxious. I’m scared I won’t like the play. I anticipate I will have to try and say reassuring things afterwards. To my relief, from the very first line, I was hooked by this play.


I’m not being biased. I’m not being sycophantic. I’m informed. For the past four years, I have seen nearly 1000 productions. I have my tastes. My own opinions sure. But I also now know what works.


And as I said to Liv after watching the show “it’s perfect” in my opinion.


Trust me, as a friend, the relief was huge, to not have to resort to the line “babe.... you wrote a play!.... and the set looks amazing”. Which incidentally it did.


For anyone familiar with the Old Red Lion theatre in Islington, it can be a precarious and tricky venue with its L shaped seating bank proving tricky for any director. Fortunately the design skills of Charlotte Dennis and director Adam Small have tackled this without flaw.



Liv Warden has created something incredible. Something I envy. As a fellow writer. I sat through it, thinking damn, she’s nailed it.


‘Anomaly’ plays at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 2nd February. With tickets priced at only £17.


Take my word for it. It is rare that you will witness three incredible actresses who encapsulate the very essence of their well drafted characters.


Natasha Cowley, Katherine Samuelson and Alice Handoll give pitch perfect performances conveying every intricate difference and similarity that connect the three siblings they portray.



Natasha Cowley, Katherine Samuelson and Alice Handoll. I also repeat their names because they are quite clearly rising stars whose names you will see again, and whom you will kick yourself for not seeing for the measly sum of £17 in this intimate venue.


Book now. Before it sells out.


https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/anomaly.html


*Quote taken from this article. https://inews.co.uk/culture/theatre-women-playwrights-national/

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That Stagey Blog

A THEATRE BLOG

BY PHILIP DEHANY

Est 2019

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