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BWW Review: Is It Love Or Chemistry? Lucy Prebble's Intriguing THE EFFECT


Some say love has everything to do with chemistry, but is it really love when that chemistry is created in a lab and sold by a pharmaceutical company for major profits?

Carter Hudson and Susannah Flood (Photo: Matthew Murphy)?

For example, when Connie (Susannah Flood) first meets Tristan (Carter Hudson) in Lucy Prebble's intriguing drama, The Effect, he's an annoying, pushy guy who won't take no for an answer to his somewhat creepy offer to deliver her urine sample to the lab across the hall, since he's heading in that direction with his own, anyway.

So what makes her fall desperately in love with him before the first act's final blackout? It might be an effect of the experimental antidepressant they've both volunteered to take as part of a four-week test.

Confined to a medical facility for the duration of their stay, their bodily reactions to stimuli are monitored by a compassionate doctor named Lorna (Kati Brazda), who has supplied them with consent forms forbidding, among other things, the use of electronics and the partaking of sexual activity.

But can subjects be expected to keep their word when a drug is known to cause irrational behavior? Also consider that one (or both) of the volunteers may be taking placebos.

Kati Brazda and Steve Key (Photo: Matthew Murphy)?

Anxiously awaiting results is Toby (Steve Key), the profit-minded head of the facility whose messy history with Lorna eventually comes into play.

While a couple of moments stretch credibility, they also bring up some interesting matters for debate, especially if a subject starts making life-altering decisions while (maybe) under medication.

A solid cast is helmed by director David Cromer, whose efficient staging is enhanced by an appropriate lack of empathy. The playwright and director manage an emotional separation between the characters and the audience, turning patrons into impartial observers of a fascinating case study.

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From This Author Michael Dale