Daniel Raggett will direct ANNA X, a new play by Joseph Charlton, which originally ran at the Vault Festival in 2019 and will be the third production in Sonia Friedman’s RE:EMERGE Season at The Harold Pinter Theatre.
Golden Globe Award-winner Emma Corrin and Royal Television Society’s 2019 Breakthrough star Nabhaan Rizwan make their West End debuts in this searing tale of self-invention, determination, and deceit.
ANNA X directed by Daniel Raggett is at The Harold Pinter Theatre until 4th August 2021.
You’re directing Anna X at The Harold Pinter Theatre, what can you tell us about the play?
The play is essentially a modern love story. Anna and Ariel, both new arrivals in New York City, meet on a night out. Ariel is a tech entrepreneur who has designed a dating app and Anna is taking the art world by storm.
They’re both in the ascendancy, driven by a shared aspiration to join the elite world of celebrity, money and power that we’re all accustomed to leering at on our phones. But this naked ambition comes at a price. As their relationship deepens, cracks begin to show – and perhaps not everyone is who they seem. It’s a Talented Mr Ripley for the Instagram age.
How does it feel to be closing the RE:Emerge Season?
It’s such an honour to be part of the RE:Emerge season, especially after the year we’ve had. The whole company feels incredibly lucky and humbled to be in a room and to be working on a play – let alone one that we’ve nurtured from its very inception. It is doubly thrilling to follow in the footsteps of shows like Walden and J’Ouvert. To continue in their spirit but hopefully bring something else totally new and exciting to the West End.
What first went through your mind when you read Joseph Charlton’s script for Anna X?
Joseph and I had some very vague initial conversations about the play and then suddenly the script arrived fully formed. It blew me away. It was instantly so original and so arresting. He has a way of writing sparkling, sharp dialogue but also wrestling with huge ideas in the most eloquent way. It’s so much fun to stage and, in my opinion, eminently watchable. Joseph’s also incredibly collaborative and so it’s a pleasure working together.
How do you think audiences will react to the central character?
A crucial thing about the character of Anna is that she’s incredibly good at reading people and reflecting back to them what they want to see. I always use the analogy that she’s like Neo in The Matrix – she sees the world in a way no one else can. She can be quite inscrutable, so hopefully everyone comes out of the theatre with a different reaction. To some she’s a hero, to others she’s a villain. But Ariel – her opposite number – is also equally mercurial, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how their relationship divides people.
What were you most looking forward to about working with Emma Corrin and Nabhaan Rizwan?
I’m so excited to be working with Emma and Nabhaan. They’re both incredibly talented and their reputations preceded them so I feel very lucky to have them as collaborators. They’ve given so much to the play throughout the process – from way back at the workshop stage – and they continue to deliver every day. They’re both smart and instinctive actors, who bring plenty of ideas to the table. It’s both of their debuts but you wouldn’t know it – I can’t wait to let them loose on audiences.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Anna X?
Well, first of all, do come! Everyone says that their play is relevant: but if you’re reading this on a screen then this is a play for you. ANNA X is very much about the world we live in. One that constantly bathes us in images, that encourages us to self-fashion, to curate our lives, to construct our identities every day through our interaction with our devices.
If you want to see someone do that to an exceptional level – to literally re-invent themselves, Gatsby-style, to great (if questionable) success – then come and see it. It’s got the heart of a rom-com with the head of a thriller – and expect a few surprises along the way!