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BWW Interview: Susannah Flood Talks Role in THE EFFECT and What It's Like Working With David Cromer

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When it debuted, The Effect took London by storm, winning BEST NEW PLAY from the UK Critics' Circle. Now, award-winning director DAVID CROMER (Our Town, Tribes) helms a new American production of this exhilarating play in the first collaboration between THE NATIONAL THEATRE, JEAN DOUMANIAN PRODUCTIONS and BARROW STREET THEATRE.

To celebrate the show's recent extension to September 4th, BroadwayWorld chatted with Susannah Flood, who plays "Connie." She told us about her role in the show, and what it was like working with David Cromer for a second time, after her role in TRIBES. Check out the interview, below!


Congratulations on The Effect getting extended to the fall! How excited are you?

I'm very excited. It's just a cool opportunity to keep doing. When you have the chance to keeping working with the same show for a while it's kind of unique kind of challenge. You repeat the same thing over and over, and repetition is a way of going deeper and deeper into something that actually surprises you. You have an opportunity to surprise yourself with coming to understand something you didn't understand yet. That definitely has already happened. We're in mid 60s, approaching 70 performances, so that's happened here and there along the way. But I definitely think that the extension is going to be interesting. It's a long extension. I'm grateful that people like it. I'm grateful that people want to come. I hope people continue to come and it's certainly a pleasure to share the play with audiences.

Tell us about your role in the show. Do you relate to the character at all?

I play "Connie," and she's a young woman, a student who we assume is getting her master's degree. She's studying psychology and she's comes into the trial and how it works. It's relevant to the field that she's considering entering in and it's also about depression, and there's a suggestion that there's a history of depression in her family. That's the reasons she enters the trials and and she has this experience that she wasn't looking for at all and totally unexpected by. I definitely relate to her.

The character is very similar to the playwright, who is extremely smart and very responsible. In my family, we'd call this kind of person a "good girl." Not like a goody two-shoes, but like a "good girl," like she wants to do well by everybody. She wants to help people and get an A on the test of life. And I think I definitely relate to that temperament, that feeling of like wanting to making the right choices and do the responsible thing. And sometimes that can be a really motivating, healthy, great thing. And sometimes it can be a limitation that you place on yourself. When she meets "Tristan," who's kind of the opposite, I guess they would call it a "free spirit," but basically he's kind of just saying where he is constantly, completely uninhibited by a sense of what you're supposed to do and only does what he wants to do, from a place of curiosity. I like to think that it makes an impact on her in the long run, like reveals a different way of seeing in the world that she hasn't considered.

So, this is your second time working with David Cromer. Do you like his directing style? Was it nice to work with him again?

For sure, yeah. David won the Macarthur Genius Award about two years ago and he is that. He is incredibly gifted. I feel like directors, that is a hard job. Because they have to be imaginative and sort of seeing. The great directors have this way of seeing the play as a whole from the outside, and seeing the essence of the narrative in such a way and can translate it into a compelling visual design and concept that might be literal or might be not at all. And also the director has to do the very small and specific things relating to actors in a very intimate, micro kind of way. Because the actors are all about the details of the moment to moment in your thinking or your behavior. And the really great directors have to be able to see the big picture and the little detail picture in that way.

Very early on in the process, I was completely blown away by David's ability to do both of those things, to have an eye on both of those in the development of the production at once. He really distinguishes between what actors do on stage and what people who have their real life, and he is always holding you accountable for what people actually do in their real life. And David would much rather have that stage and sacrifice a joke or an audience response of a particular kind in the name of actually having a real thing happen on stage. That's a really helpful reminder about what you do as an actor but also how you do it, how you actually do it. After you leave school you're only able to learn at the pace of your collaborators. And when you have a collaborator who really is disciplined and integral in their approach to your work, it reminds you and gives you a chance to grow. And that's how it is with David. I'm really lucky to have worked with him again.

This is also your second time working at Barrow Street Theatre. Are you happy to be back there? Is it like a second home?

Yeah, It's awesome. It's fun you say that because I've been hanging out with the person who runs the theatre after the show at the bar for the past few nights, which I don't usually do. So I've had a lot of time to talk to him about how awesome the Barrow Street is. This has been a topic that has been on my mind recently. They've created a theatre that totally excels in artistic risk and fostering and supporting the artists and being a conduit in which the world see's new artists, and yet it's a for-profit model. And, therefore they are able to pay everybody minimum wage and help people with their opportunities. He's amazing and he kind of runs it like a big family. He really invested in the individual. I think he fosters a relationship with people over time. I could count on one hand the number of people working on this project who have never worked at the Barrow Street before. Everyone else has, some of them multiple times. He believes in the long haul, and that truly is a pleasure. I think he has a good eye.


Hearts racing. Minds reeling. Knees buckling. Connie and Tristan have palpable chemistry-or is it a side effect of a new super-antidepressant? They are volunteers in a clinical trial, but their sudden and illicit romance forces the supervising doctors to face off over the ethical consequences of their work. From LUCY PREBBLE, "one of the UK's hottest new playwrights" (The Telegraph), The Effect takes on our pill-popping culture with humor and scintillating drama.

For more information about The Effect, or to purchase tickets to the show, check out their website here.


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