A Shiny Life For Me!

a personal review blog by Bianca

The Effect

The Effect
05 September 2023
National Theatre
2.0 out of 5.0 stars

I expected a lot more from The Effect, if I’m honest. This play had a very interesting synopsis, but unfortunately didn’t go much beyond it, making for very predictable viewing.

“Connie and Tristan are falling for each other fast. But is their sudden and intoxicating chemistry real, or a side effect of a new antidepressant?”, the play mostly takes place during a residential trial study for a new antidepressant. Connie is a very lacklustre character, seeming stand-offish and without much personality, while Tristan is more boisterous and sparkling, but also seems quite underdeveloped, lacking identity and purpose.

The doctor overseeing the study also felt very unprofessional and unqualified, seemingly not even wanting to be part of a clinical study in the first place. She does drive the plot quite a bit by getting involved in the study subject’s personal lives, while often re-iterating that she needs to be impartial and professional.

When it comes to the plot, most of it is already captured in the above synopsis with little expansion or depth to it. There are no big surprises or reveals, it generally felt like it was building up to something, but then fell short.

Overall, while the staging was interesting and the acting faultless, the script just doesn’t give its players much to work with. Individual topics aren’t explored and characters feel undeveloped and superficial. I did really want to like this play, but I came out feeling quite deflated and disappointed.

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