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We like to support Gloucester Stage and Heidi Dallin, and try to see anything with Lindsay Crouse. There’s no question that Gloucester Stage productions are mostly terrific.
Tom Hauck’s GMG review compelled us to see the New England premiere of The Effect, Lucy Prebble’s 2012 dramatic play at Gloucester Stage. It’s a go see for sure! I think it’s the best play about thorny life and medical themes since Wit. We can delight in Prebble’s dynamite dialogue because the direction, acting, and set are pitch perfect.
Who knew? You can bring that glass of prosecco you didn’t finish back to your seat.
“That’s because I have a selective memory,” Mr. Hall joked in a recent phone interview. A bit more sincerely, he added: “Those regrets that I do have are, exclusively, not doing plays that I wish I had done. So now I decided to say yes when people ask me to do them.”
Among the opportunities that Mr. Hall has embraced in this more receptive mode is the Gloucester Stage Company’s summer production of “The Effect,” by the British playwright Lucy Prebble.
Can love be induced chemically? This ancient question has been asked in Greek mythology and medieval legend, and perhaps most memorably in the 12th century story of Tristan and Isolde, in which a love potion created a powerful amorous attraction between the two even though she, Isolde, was betrothed to the king. Shakespeare explored it too: One of the bard’s most famous love potions was employed by the fairy Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who dribbled the goop in the eyes of the sleeping Lysander, and later Demetrius, causing romantic chaos in the forest. And anyone who was around in the 1960s knows “Love Potion Number 9,” the infectious hit record by the Clovers.
Playwright Lucy Prebble revives this time-honored theme, as well as several others, in the New England Premiere production of The Effect. Set in a drug trial clinic, the play opens with Connie (Susannah Hoffman) and the aptly named Tristan (Mickey Solis) being hired by Dr. Lorna James (GSC favorite Lindsay Crouse) for a four-week trial of what is supposed to be a new anti-depressant medication. Lurking in the background is Dr. Toby Sealey (Brad Hall), who represents Big Pharma, and who, convenient to the many-layered plot, has had a prior romantic relationship with Lorna.
Sure enough, the new drug’s only discernable effect is to rev up the libidos of Connie and Tristan, who quickly get the hots for each other. When Lorna discovers that the drug trial is not what she thought it was, her old lover, the smarmy Toby, being a good soldier for Big Pharma, demands that the trial continue to its possibly dangerous conclusion.
As one can always expect from the Gloucester Stage Company, the actors, without exception, are of the highest caliber. The set by J. Michael Griggs and lighting design by Russ Swift effectively evoke a mood of sterile creepiness. The direction by Sam Weisman is crisp and clean, and he leads these four exceptional players briskly through the many changing moods and themes of the script. Presented in two acts with an intermission, now through July 8. For tickets visit gloucesterstage.com or call 978-281-4433.
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Gloucester Stage Company continues its 38th season of professional theater on Cape Ann with the New England Premiere of Lucy Prebble’s The Effectfrom June 16 through July 8 at 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. Lucy Prebble’s funny and moving look at medicinal trial and error explores the depths of attraction and attachment, and wonders at the limits of medicine and the ever-elusive rules of the heart. In The Effect Tristan and Connie, volunteers in a controlled drug test, fall in love, but is their chemistry real or induced? The GSC production features Sam Weisman in his Gloucester Stage directing debut and a cast led by GSC favorite Academy Award nominee and Gloucester resident Lindsay Crouse as Dr. Lorna James with GSC newcomers: Saturday Night Live alum Brad Hall as Dr. Toby Sealey; Mickey Solis as Tristan and Susannah Hoffman as Connie. Gloucester Stage is a reunion for Sam Weisman, Lindsay Crouse and Brad Hall. The three worked together in the 1995 feature film Bye Bye Love which was written and produced by Hall; directed by Weisman and starring Crouse.
Lucy Prebble’s The Effect comes to Gloucester after a premiere at the The National Theatre in London and a smash hit extended run at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York last year. Ms. Prebble won the George Devine Award 2004 for her debut play The Sugar Syndromefollowed by the TMA Award for Best New Play in 2004. She also won the 2004 Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright. She is the creator of the television series Secret Diary of a Call Girl,starring Billie Piper in the main role. Ms. Prebble’s second play,ENRON, transferred to The West End and Broadway in 2010 after sell out runs at both The Royal Court and Chichester Festival Theatre. Sony has optioned the rights to develop ENRON into a film. ENRONwon Best New Play at the TMA Theatre Awards, and was shortlisted for The Evening Standard Award for Best New Play 2009.