Lucy Prebble’s The Effect explores questions of sanity, neurology and the limits of medicine. The audience is taken into a medical clinic, made to put on hospital bands and swallow a pill before they are finally allowed to take their seats. A heartbeat monitor is heard as it counts down the beats for the opening scene, creating an ominous and anticipatory atmosphere. Directors, Sam P. Fallon and Sarah Warham, maintained this nervy feeling throughout the play, thus lending tension to its discussion of on-topic issues, such as depression, love and the role of medicine.
The cast’s performance was mesmerising, and the direction and production was carried out impeccably
The characters experienced intensively emotional scenes, and the four-man cast’s performance did not disappoint. They managed to find the right balance between light humour and respect for the seriousness of the topic. Tristan (Ross Telfer) and Connie (Alice Tones) had enticing chemistry and their individual struggles with the question of love coordinated movingly. Dr. Toby (Joel Bates) was the least likeable character of the play, but Bates’ performance was a success, creating a comical and at the same time, tragic interaction with his past conquest, Dr. Lorna (Elizabeth Cooke), who left the most memorable performance. Her battles with mental illness and the relationship with Dr. Toby created a double-levelled element to the play. The ending of her story, which we won’t reveal here, was intensely created through the use of visual effects – a marvellous idea executed flawlessly by the production team.
The cast’s performance was mesmerising, and the direction and production was carried out impeccably. The play is timed perfectly, allowing the audience to embrace and become attached to the clinical romance without appearing prolonged by any unnecessary detail. Hitting the right notes of humour in the first half and keeping the audience laughing, the emotional and dramatic scenes in the second half were poignant but not overwhelming as there were still traces of humour, just of the darker variety.
The Drama Barn’s production of The Effect was beautifully executed by the directors and the production team, and brought to life by the talented cast. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a free night this weekend, as it leaves you pondering over questions of mental health and love, in a manner that is both touching and memorable.
*The Effect is showing 1st-3rd May at the Drama Barn, University of York.