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Review: Anna X, at Harold Pinter Theatre

Dazzling performances in electrifying play inspired by the life of 'fake heiress' Anna Sorokin

22 July, 2021 — By Lucy Popescu

Nabhaan Rizwan and Emma Corrin in Anna X. Photo: Helen Murray

JOSEPH Charlton’s razor-sharp play is inspired by the life of “fake heiress” Anna Sorokin, a wannabe art curator seduced by the glitz and glamour of New York, who was found guilty of grand larceny and theft of services in 2019.

Anna X opens in a NY nightclub: two characters dance manically to music so loud we cannot hear what they are saying; their conversation is projected onto a screen behind them.

They are Anna (Emma Corrin), former intern on a magazine, now an art curator, and Ariel (Nabhaan Rizwan), designer of an elite dating app whose members join by invitation only.

Before they meet again, they check out each other online. Anna, rumoured to be a Russian oil heiress, has painted an impressive life for herself on Instagram, while Ariel’s social media profile shows his star is rising.

The pair begin to date but Ariel is unaware that he is Anna’s financial target. Alarm bells ring when she leaves him with a $19,000+ hotel bill, but she tips so generously Ariel is persuaded she’s merely displaying the nonchalance of the very rich.

When she begins to press Ariel to invest in her art foundation, he finally begins to suspect her motives. Can he extricate himself before it’s too late and does he really want to?

Corrin and Rizwan give dazzling performances in this electrifying tale of artifice and identity, self-invention and manipulation.

Anna X originally ran at the Vault Festival in 2019. As the third production in Sonia Friedman’s Re:Emerge season in the West End, it’s a fine example of what can be achieved when venue and budget are upscaled.

Everything in the play is about appearance and this is reflected in the spectacular set and video design by Mikaela Liakata and Tal Yarden; a work of art in itself. Daniel Raggett’s smart, sassy direction is further enhanced by Jessica Hung Han Yun’s bold lighting and Mike Winship’s hypnotic soundtrack.

Anna X is supremely chic, but with substance. Unmissable.

Until August 4
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