The Effect A Dose of Love, Chemistry, and Uncertainty: A REVIEW - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Effect A Dose of Love, Chemistry, and Uncertainty: A REVIEW

 PHOTO CAPTION: Paapa Essiedu (Tristan) and Taylor Russell (Connie) in The Effect at the National Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner

The Effect
A Dose of Love, Chemistry, and Uncertainty

By Lindsey Root

This production of "The Effect" took me on an emotional rollercoaster, exploring the intricate realms of love, ethics, and the mysterious workings of the human mind. The play revolves around the lives of two volunteers, Tristan and Connie, participating in a clinical trial for a new antidepressant. 

One of the play's strongest aspects is its ability to challenge preconceived notions about love and the impact of external influences on our emotions. The characters grapple with the blurred lines between genuine feelings of reality and the perception of the effects of the experimental drug, raising questions about the authenticity of emotions and the ethics of manipulation.

While the chemistry between the lead actors, Paapa Essiedu as Tristan and Taylor Russel as Connie, was nothing short of thrilling, the deeply emotive vulnerability and authenticity the entire cast brought to the stage were both captivating and moving. 

Soutra Gilmour (set design) and Jon Clark (lighting design) created an atmosphere of tension and suspense that also cleverly captured the sterile environment of a clinical trial. Their effect on every scene was full of stunning and dramatic images, using (what seemed to be) only a few lights, including the entirety of the stage floor. The minimalist, yet effective and masterfully crafted design allowed the audience to focus on the characters and their evolving dynamics within multiple settings quickly and easily. 

All of this collaboration (including the many names unmentioned) lent to the overall energy of the pace of the production that was set by the artful eye of the director, Jamie Lloyd. Occasionally, the play's climactic moments starkly contrasted the clinical and analytical scenes, creating a pace that felt abrupt and unsettling. This pace mirrors the rhythm of the play and the journey of its characters, crafting a palpable and engaging theatrical experience.

The Shed’s Griffin Theater 

545 West 30th Street

March 13 - March 31, 2024| Tuesday - Sunday 7pm | Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday 2pm
Running time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, no intermission 

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