By Sandi Durell
Look at what can happen when two young adults become part of Big Pharma’s research! Is it the drugs being administered that cause the endorphins and pheromones to rise in this story of attraction or just plain old chemistry? UK Playwright Lucy Prebble (Enron) presents a sugar coated, occasionally witty look at the situation at Barrow Street Theatre in this North American premiere directed by David Cromer.
When volunteers Connie Hall (Susannah Flood) and Tristan Fey (Carter Hudson) meet at a clinical trial facility holding their urine samples, they begin their steady pill popping of agent RLU37 and as the milligrams rise so does their sexual attraction. But as part of the trial, they’ve signed off on no sexual contact, no cell phones and devices. And as in all trials, someone is popping a placebo.
Connie is a bit standoffish at the onset, with a boyfriend back home and seemingly not too attracted to the free spirited Tristan who immediately makes a play for her. Their lifestyles don’t match up but it’s soon obvious their physical attraction for each other does as they can’t get enough of one another as temperatures rise in heady eroticism, their lives akin to living in their own kind of twilight zone.
The good doctor in charge, Dr. Toby Sealey (Steve Key) and his assistant, the psychiatrist, Dr. Lorna James (Kati Brazda) have already had their past fling – – he, intent upon making sure the trial continues at any cost even as they witness the two subjects in question run amuck as their illicit romance blooms, the two lovers stealing away for their little trysts and, unbeknownst to everyone but Connie (who has wrangled the truth from the acquiescent Dr. Lorna that she is the one on the placebo), they watch Tristan disintegrate mentally and physically as the doses administered become higher.
Questions are brought into play about the viability and reliability of clinical trials at the cost of a human being’s welfare and how easy it is to promote the continuation of a pill-popping culture. There are good performances all around but outstanding is that by Carter Hudson.
The cast is rounded out by George Demas who plays the role of a lab technician. Scenic design (Marsha Ginsberg) is sparse and sterile, including a moving wall, with lighting by Tyler Micoleau.
The Effect, frankly, begins to have little effect over the course of two hours.
Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, thru June 19
www.barrowstreettheatre.com Photos: Matthew Murphy