Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Friday, August 11, 2023

The Effect @ Lyttelton Theatre…

Meeting over urine samples is the clinical drug trial equivalent of meeting at the water cooler in office romances, and it is where Connie and Tristan first encounter one another. 

They are both participants in a clinical drug trial of a new antidepressant and the feelings they develop for one another go beyond the usual cliché of a couple having chemistry. The question explored in The Effect, currently showing at The Lyttelton Theatre on London’s glitzy South Bank,  is whether their chemistry is real or results from the new drug they are trialling. This not only raises questions about the feelings they have developed for one another but also poses ethical dilemmas for the doctors who are supervising the drug trial.

Love and ethics, depression and its genesis and questions about its cure are the themes woven into The Effect. Written by Lucy Prebble (Enron, Succession) in 2012, it was highly acclaimed when it was first staged at the Dorfman Theatre and won the Critic’s Circle Theatre Award that year.  Directed now by Jamie Lloyd (Cyrano de Bergerac), Connie is played by Canadian screen star, Taylor Russell (Bones and All), and Tristan by Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You).  And Stuart and I both loved it. 

The Effect runs for 1 hour 40 minutes without an interval, but the tension builds before the actors even take the stage. Thumping music accompanies the audience into the theatre which has been reconfigured so that a thin strip of stage in the centre has seating rising up on two sides. This makes what is already a very intimate play come even closer to the audience than would otherwise not be possible in such a large venue. 

At each end of the stage sit the doctors; the fantastic Michelle Austin is running the trial, the brilliant yet sinister Kobna Holbrook-Smith paying for it. 

All four performances were excellent with a special mention due to Paapa Essiedu as Tristan who gave a masterclass in acting. His journey from engaging flirt to disinhibited, raging and paranoid man, eventually unknown to himself was an award-winning performance.

Go see. 

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