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The Coolidge Effect is part of Wonder Fools 2020 season Stories To Connect Us. Having already toured schools and youth groups across the UK, this is a new audio recording that is being released digitally on 28 July.

The coolidge effect is a biological phenomenon that sees male animals display a renewed interest in sexual activity when a new female is introduced. The experiment originally took place with rats and it found that while the rats would mate frequently, the male would lose interest unless new partners were brought in. The comparison here is that humans are always looking for something new to satisfy them when it comes to online pornography.

George is a 12-year-old boy who is obsessed with his Gameboy. The boys in his class watch porn on their phone and although George likes a girl at school, he struggles to connect the feelings he has for her with what he's seen in these videos. Nobody has spoken to him about relationships and he goes looking on his dad's laptop to try and figure out what he thinks is expected of him.

Gary is an older man who is struggling to get the same rush that he used to from watching videos online. He is desperate for a video he hasn't seen before to make him feel something. Gary is presented as an example of someone with an addiction to pornography.

This performance piece relies quite heavily on science but the information is presented in an accessible and interesting format. It doesn't demonise pornography and also offers up views from people who have said that it has lessened feelings of loneliness. This is a frank and explicit discussion but it needs to be to have any impact.

I haven't engaged with a lot of streaming theatre during lockdown but I found the audio format of The Coolidge Effect really enjoyable. Performed by Robbie Gordon and Jamie Marie Leary, this is educational and informal but never preachy. The soundtrack by VanIves is subtle but acts as the perfect underscore to this piece.

The Coolidge Effect is available to stream until 31 October.

Photo credit: Beth Chalmers

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From This Author Natalie O'Donoghue