Review: The Effect, National Theatre, starring Paapa Essiedu and Taylor Russell - oozes with chemistry
The first production of The Effect had its premiere in 2012, so it is a departure for director Jamie Lloyd who more typically gives older material such as The Seagull and Cyrano de Bergerac a fresh contemporary feel. (Does this mark a new chapter?)
Lucy Prebble's play is set around the clinical trial for a new anti-depressant drug. Connie (Taylor Russell) and Tristan (Paapa Essiedu) are taking part to earn some money - Connie is a student, and Tristan wants to travel.
Dr Toby Sealy (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) is running the trial and has brought in depression-sufferer Dr Lorna James (Michelle Austin) to help.
An attraction quickly forms between Connie and Tristan but are their feelings a side effect of the drugs they are taking? Is love simply chemical or something to which the cause can not be clearly attributed?
Similar questions about chemical responses are raised about depression and the drugs used to treat it. James, ironically given the trial she is working on, doesn't believe it is something solved by medicine.
Despite warnings, Connie and Tristan's blossoming romance threatens the integrity of the trial, and the trial causes friction in the relationship between Sealy and James.