Review: Anna X at The Lowry

I love Manchester 

I love The Crown

I love New York

I love that the New York scenes with Emma Corrin as Diana from the last series were shot in the Northern Quarter. I love the Northern Quarter.

And so all was aligned for me to see the new play Anna X at The Lowry (yes I know this is Salford, throw me a bone) this week.

Allow me to explain. 

ANNA X by Joseph Charlton ; Production ; Starring Emma Corrin & Nabhaan Rizwan ; Directed by Daniel Raggett ; Set and Video Design by Mikaela Liakata and Tal Yarden ; Lighting Design by Jessica Hung Han Yun ; Costume Design by Natalie Pryce ; Sound Design by Mike Winship ; Production Photographer: Helen Murray ; Sonia Friedman Productions ; Harold Pinter Theatre ; London, UK ; 11th July 2021 ; Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

Starring Golden Globe winner, Emma Corrin (best known for her portrayal of Princess Diana in Netflix series, The Crown) and Nabhaan Rizwan (Informer, The Accident, Industry), Anna X is based on the true story of Russian fraudster, Anna Sorokin/Anna Delvey, who spent her mid-twenties duping New York’s art world into believing that she was a German heiress.

ANNA X by Joseph Charlton ; Production ; Starring Emma Corrin & Nabhaan Rizwan ; Directed by Daniel Raggett ; Set and Video Design by Mikaela Liakata and Tal Yarden ; Lighting Design by Jessica Hung Han Yun ; Costume Design by Natalie Pryce ; Sound Design by Mike Winship ; Production Photographer: Helen Murray ; Sonia Friedman Productions ; Harold Pinter Theatre ; London, UK ; 11th July 2021 ; Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

In this brilliant two-hander written by Joseph Charlton and directed by Daniel Raggett, Anna X sets out to con the newly loaded Manhattan tech entrepreneur, Ariel, who has made a splash in the world of ‘start-ups’ with his new dating app, Genesis. Step 1 is to make him fall for her, step 2 – fund her non-existent art foundation.

The show was a 90 minute, fast-paced live art installation in its own right, which I guess all shows and plays are, of course. The set was in physical terms simple; a series of boxes. But add in the strobe lighting, projections, the LED wall which took in New York apartments, Governor’s Island, Brooklyn Cemeteries, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge…prison…

Thrilling.

(Dusts off Manhattan Meatpacking District modern art anecdote…) it was reminiscent of a visit to The Whitney (Museum of Modern Art) in New York where I was particularly captivated by an installation by who is said to be video art’s inventor, Nam June Paik. 1989’s Fin de Siecle II…

207 television monitors of varying sizes arranged in adjoining grids…emitting a disorientating, enrapturing flood of images and music taken from broadcast television and video art and programmed to repeat relentlessly, mutate wildly and change abruptly, although a driving, danceable beat is constant.

Roberta Smith, The New York Times

A piece and, indeed, artist that Anna herself would claim great knowledge of. I myself don’t claim great knowledge, but be assured that my interest and sketchy knowledge of modern art is used only for good, not for fraud…

The witty, fast-paced dialogue and exchanges between the actors be they as the two main characters, Anna and Ariel, or side roles such as sleazy magazine editors, high-powered investors (all the which taking in an impressive array of accents), keep you mesmerised, amused and captivated as though you were stood staring goggle-eyed and hypnotised at 207 flashing television sets at a gallery in lower Manhattan (archives anecdote until the next time…).

Meta.

And so whilst it was indeed thrilling in its own right to be in an almost full theatre again for the first time since the C word took over our lives, I couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling and vibrant, heady and edgy production to kick-start what is hopefully a journey back into the wonderful world of theatre and indeed art that Manchester (and Salford) can offer us all.

Anna X continues at The Lowry theatre until Saturday 14 August.

All the details and tickets can be accessed at https://thelowry.com/whats-on/anna-x/

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