City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Effect, Summerhall, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 13 March 2015

The Effect
Show Details
Firebrand Theatre Company
Richard Baron (director), Lucy Prebble (writer), Matt Eagland (lighting design), Jonathan Beales (soundscape), Ken Harrison (set design), Rita Henderson choreographer)
Pauline Knowles (Lorna), Jonathan Coote (Toby), Scarlett Mack (Connie), Cameron Crighton (Tristan)
Running time: 

Is love the drug or is the drug love?

Rauschen Pharmaceuticals has set up a clinical trial for a new anti -depressant drug. Two young volunteers,Connie a psychology student from Pitlochry (Scarlett Mack) and the aimless Tristan from Clacton (Cameron Crighton) are vetted for their suitability to participate in this isolated environment. Over the experiment, they find they are attracted to each other and although aware of possible side effects of the drug, as well as the fact that one of them may be taking a placebo, they are thrown into confusion about their actual feelings. Their confusion creates professional doubt and conflict between the supervising doctor Lorna (Pauline Knowles) and her boss and former lover Toby (Jonathan Coote).

On Ken Harrison’s starkly cold grey blue set that is all smooth grimness, two cushioned moveable storage boxes sit and on the wall sit two small screens that digitally narrate information from drug dosage being administered to interval time. A soundscape of metallic and liquid sounds with voices heard as though through cotton wool sets the atmosphere. Jonathan Beales goes on to create a range of excellent accompanying music to this intense piece of theatre.

The four actors have been perfectly cast and are really well clad throughout (sorry no credit for that) apart from the nude scenes of course! Under Richard Baron’s fine direction each inhabits their role with ease, assurance and conviction: Cameron Crighton as the cocky and immensely irritating Tristan whose frantic tension is palpable and whose vanity shows as much as the tops of his pants that he is careful to show even when changing in to his bland monitored institutional clothing; Scarlett Mack as the alert, anxious and honest Connie; Pauline Knowles as the hard headed but ultimately vulnerable clinician and Jonathan Coote as the self- possessed plummy senior.

Lucy Prebble’s script is at times dense and with some tortuous dialogue but the subject matter is so pertinent in covering human concerns of finding happiness that it is forgiven. The play doesn’t shy from the vital role of sex and the destructive nature of underlying violence. The young couple’s relationship is compressed through a series of short bursts of action that allow a pretty long play to seem less so. The questions of whether it’s better to be controlled by a drug or by a person are posed astutely throughout. Issues of memory, self- doubt, and insecurity, when the natural human feeling of sadness tips to mild or deep depression and what the real commitment of love is along with the age old difficulty over male and female perspectives are all addressed.

In The Effect, Firebrand has succeeded in producing absorbing, thought provoking theatre that is laden with the morass human complexities and the pertinent question here of whether a kiss is in fact just a kiss.

Age recommend 16 +
Run ended