July 16, 2016
While watching the absorbing new play by Lucy Prebble, “The Effect,” lyrics from the song “Love Potion Number 9” kept swirling through my head. “I told her that I was a flop with chicks…She said, ‘What you need is Love Potion Number 9.’ I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink! I didn’t know if it was day or night, I started kissin’ everything in sight.” You get it.
Directed by the masterful David Cromer, “The Effect” revolves around a psychologist, Dr. Lorna James (Kati Brazda) administering a drug protocol. Intended as a mood-elevating drug for depression, the drugs main ingredient, dopamine, is equally potent stimulating infatuations—or the sense of love. Her two subjects are attractive people in their 30’s. Uncertain why the quizzical Connie Hall (Susannah Flood) wants to sequester herself for the study, the free-spirited Tristan Frey (Carter Hudson) wants the money so he can travel cross-country.
Each day the subjects take a pill (one is administered a placebo), have their vital monitored and amble around the facility. Overtly friendly, Tristan is constantly flirting with Connie who tries to retain her space, but alas, she succumbs. Like two giddy children, they do naughty stuff in the clinic beds, and outdoors.
Conflicted by the trials’ health and psychological ramifications, Dr. James locks onto the budding relationship (no sex between subjects in the trial) and evicts Connie. But she refuses insisting she needs to know if she’s really in love with Tristan. Love, or infatuation, instigated by the formation of dopamine most certainly guides Cupid’s arrows, but is it lasting?
Without giving away the twisty ending, the budding love between Connie and Tristan is mirrored in a past relationship connecting Dr. James and lead doctor, Toby Sealey.
The brain is a complex organ known as the center of the nervous system. But ancients, poets and philosophers believe our soul reside in our brain.
The winning cast successfully executes the feelings surrounding the delicate balance between scientific analysis and human emotion.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis