MOM THEATRE BLOGGER: The Effect: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman


Photo by : Matthew Murphy

Is someone on a placebo?  And, if so, does that make their feelings more real than someone on a pharmaceutical?

Boy meets girl over urine samples in this highly thought-provoking new work by Lucy Prebble, and while uncertain of the truth of their attraction, there is much more at stake here.  Connie and Tristan are part of a clinical trial for a new experimental antidepressant drug, and under the confined, controlled circumstances (a four week stay at the clinic), relationships are off limits. It can impact the results of the study.  But, of course, they can’t help themselves, despite their differences.

On top of that, the strict psychiatrist Lorna and the egotistical psychiatrist Toby in charge have a complicated romantic history, and she herself has a history of depression.  The trial and her concerns about it, triggers  emotions, putting her own guarded mental state at stake, and we wonder about her future and commitment to this trial and others.

The excellent cast for The Effect features Kati Brazda (Dr. Lorna James), George Demas (Research Lab Technician), Susannah Flood (Connie), Carter Hudson (Tristan), and Steve Key (Dr. Toby Sealy).  Each competently holds their own, and Hudson offers a compelling and complex portrayal of the backpacking slacker who ultimately wins Connie’s heart….for real.

I wasn’t quite certain if the clever use of projections was meant to suggest that the couple was in fact being observed, even in their own rooms.  And, I would have welcomed further character development of Connie and Tristan to better understand what led them to participate under the challenging circumstances, beyond a desire to make money.  Surely there might be easier ways to get a paycheck without compromising ones mental and physical health.

That said, there is much to consider here, and The Effect, with its stark staging and efficient direction by David Cromer, packs a punch not just about love but about the value of antidepressant drugs and the efficacy of drug testing by the medical establishment.

The design team includes Marsha Ginsberg (Scenic Design), Sarah Laux (Costume Design), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Erik T. Lawson (Sound Design), Maya Ciarrocchi (Projection Design), Daniel Kluger (Original Music), Carrie Mossman (Properties Design), J. David Brimmer (Fight Direction), Cindy Tolan, C.S.A (Casting), and Richard A. Hodge (Production Stage Manager).

The National Theatre of Great Britain’s North American wing (Tim Levy, Producer), Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian, Tom Wirtshafter, and Patrick Daly are presenting this North American premiere.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting, on the phone at 212-868-4444, or in person at the Barrow Street Theatre box office. Visit

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