by Lucy Prebble
directed by David Cromer
Barrow Street Theatre
June 25, 2016
💉💉💉 out of 5.
Is it dopamine or is it love? That is a new question for the stage. The Effect is a fascinating story of a drug trial clinic that uses both a male and a female as guinea pigs. They are both (?) given increasingly larger doses of a new, experimental anti-depressant to test its effect and side effects. And as they become attached to each other, they question the source of this attraction . . . The premise here is that the good feeling we have when we fall in love or lust might simply be a chemical equation that could be duplicated by modern pharmacology. The play goes on to explore the entire notion of prescribing drugs as the cure to all unhappiness. As one character says, “Perhaps depression is useful to moving forward with life. Take away the sadness and the lesson may no be learned.”
Visually this show is wonderful. The use of live recordings help us get very intimate with the couple in question as their bond (either natural or drug induced) gets closer and closer. They literally take a video camera into bed with them!
The Effect asked some very provocative questions about depression, psychiatry, psychology, medications and love itself. I was fascinated the entire time. The one line that struck me so profoundly came from the female doctor that was conducting the study but, herself, a victim to severe depression. As her depression swells in intensity, she cries out, “I don’t have enough skin. I want to go.” Ouch.