Anna X – The Lyric Theatre, The Lowry
Writer: Joseph Charlton
Director: Daniel Raggett.
Reviewer: Matthew Forrest
It would be fair to say that over the last 18 months most Instagram accounts have, for obvious reasons, showed a different slice of life from what was probably intended: gone were the snaps of flash parties, and exotic locations, replaced with homemade banana bread, and frustrated pictures of home schooling!
I mention Instagram, because it’s as much a part of writer Joseph Charlton’s slick play Anna X, as its two leading characters. Inspired by (although this is not a retelling) the true events and the deception of Anna Sorokin, a Russian-German fraudster, who tricked the New York socialite scene and art world into believing she was a German heiress, our Anna’s ambition is matched by her deceit and ambition.
The play debuted on the West End earlier this summer as part of the Re:emerge season and we are lucky enough to see it for a brief run at The Lowry. Anna X sees Golden Globe winner, and star of The Crown, Emma Corrin star as the calculating fraudster who sets her sights onto unsuspecting, freshly minted tech whizz Ariel played by Industry actor Nabhaan Rizwan.
We are given an insight into the circumstances around how Ariel and Anna’s journey took them both to Manhattan, and their fateful meeting in a trendy New York nightclub. From this we see the green shoots of a romantic relationship where both participants have polarizing agendas, which ultimately has catastrophic implications for both parties.
The two leads are superb, and make for an endearing double act; the nightclub scenes are fun, even sweet at times, with Corrin giving Anna a warmth and humour, despite her calculating, manipulative nature. In contrast, Rizwan’s Ariel is a likeable, charismatic “mark”, who always seems in control even though he never is. At times, this is more “RomCom” than crime drama, and is all the better for it!
The other outstanding performance comes from the exceptional set and video design from Mikaela Liakata and Tai Yarden. It’s a captivating piece of work, bringing to life the nightclubs and the hustle and bustle of New York. The video projections are stunning, genuinely immersive and weaved into the script. This alongside Mike Winship’s all encompassing sound design is very much the third character in this two-hander; the opening scene in a New York nightclub is particularly frenetic and effective.
The production is slick, stylish, visually stunning, with two fantastic performances. Sometimes it does lack a bit of bite: you can’t help but feel it would benefit from a more bitter cynical edge, unlike its titular character, there is a missing killer instinct.
Fresh, bold, and entertaining with a great deal to say about ambition, greed, and success at all costs, this is a highly entertaining slice of “popcorn theatre” – well worth catching.
Anna X is on till 14th August
Tickets available at https://thelowry.com/whats-on/anna-x/