Skip to main content

The Effect

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars

What does it mean to be love sick? Lucy Prebble's award-winning play, first seen at the Royal National Theatre in 2012, explores this painful question through two couples confined in very different ways by clinical drug trials in a medical testing centre run by a tellingly named pharmaceutical company. Connie and Tristan arrive as strangers, but within hours find themselves attracted to each other in a way that might just be chemically enhanced. Lorna and Toby, meanwhile, are the doctors overseeing Connie and Tristan's trial, and whose uneasy shared history dictates everything that follows.

As Connie and Tristan's terminal flirtation eventually spills over, so Lorna and Toby come to redefine their relationship through a series of double bluffs which have devastating consequences for them all.

The inner landscape Prebble explores in this fascinating dramatic analysis of chemistry, biology and sheer physical and mental desire is the sort of material that one might expect to be dissected in Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror series of one-off TV dramas. Richard Baron's revival of Prebble's play for the Borders-based Firebrand company squares up to the heart and soul of the matter with a quartet of ferocious performances that render much of the digitally animated projections unnecessary distractions.

As the younger pair, Scarlett Mack and Cameron Crighton get fully to grips with Connie and Tristan's adolescent yearnings in a way that counterpoints beautifully with Pauline Knowles and Jonathan Coote's more grown-up pairing as Lorna and Toby.

“This is a storm,” says Toby to a prone and possibly medically dependent Lorna towards the play's end. “It passes.” For some, maybe, but for those like Lorna addicted to love, probably not.
 
The Herald, February 27th 2015
 
ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …