Photo by Don Kellogg

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Effect

So... Lucy Prebble has a knack for details.  You might remember her for the musical, Enron.  It was a hit in London, but not so much here. (Those Brits love their American flop stories!).  In her latest installment playing down at the Barrow Street Theatre, Ms. Prebble dives not into Wall Street and finance but the the world of clinical trials, pharmacology, and medicine.  And by dive in - I mean she goes in deep.  Clearly she studied the details, the issues, and the minutia of the topic.  What she has written is what one might expect from a doctor turned playwright.

Helming this production is the lovely (in an anxious kind of way) Susannah Flood (Connie Hall) and scruffily-hipster handsome Carter Hudson (Tristan Frey).  As individuals who have joined a clinical trial of a drug that may or may not have a certain side effect - we find them entangled in a relationship of sorts.  Steve Key ((Dr. Toby Sealey) and Kati Brazda (Dr Laura James) are the medical professionals behind the study who themselves have a bit of history themselves.

The details of the clinical trial and the drug's side effect are entangled between both the patients and the doctors.  The mystery is revealed about the mid-point of Act 1 - who is on the drug and who is not - and how does that affect the patients.  By the end of the the study (and Act II) we get yet another curve-ball - and the patients are affected.

Ms. Prebble kept us on our toes the entire performance through her twists and turns.  Ms. Flood and Mr. Hudson kept us entertained with their flirtations and connection.  The show educates, informs, and entertains all at the same time.  The relationship between the doctors is a bit less fleshed out and could use some more refinement  - or more accurately clarity.

Perhaps Ms. Prebble will get an opportunity to have another clinical trial on a larger stage.  One might speculate the results would be positive.