A dose of hot button theatre

Carla Bonner.

FREMANTLE Theatre Company’s latest production The Effect delves into the increasingly prevalent and complex world of modern pharmacology, and society’s reliance on the latest ‘wonder drug’. 

From the creator of television series Secret Diary of a Call Girl and I Hate Suzie, Lucy Prebble, The Effect is about volunteers Connie and Tristan, who agree to participate in a drug trial but begin to develop a strange attraction between each other.

It tackles subjects such as the importance of anti-depressants, our need for them and the consequences of chemical design. 

The play won the 2012 UK critics award for best new play and is currently poised for a huge remount in London. 


The Daily Telegraph UK calls it an “astonishingly rich and rewarding play, as intelligent as it is deeply felt,” while the Sydney Morning Herald said: “There’s no shortage of things to think about in British playwright Lucy Prebble’s The Effect. By interval your mind is buzzing.”

FTC director Renato Fabretti said they chose the production because Pebble knew how to pick a hot button issue and dramatise it in a way that was entertaining and initiated debate.

“Depression, the pills we are taking for it, how people feel about medication in a post-Covid era – all really matter,” Mr Fabretti said.

“We are aware there are things that we can do for our health and some of them are simple.

“Taking naps every day decreases the likelihood of heart disease. 

“We are looking at the sciences that we call ‘natural ‘and what we call ‘chemical’ with an open mind.”

The production is directed by Pippa Grandison in her directorial debut. 

Star of the stage and screen she appeared in Muriel’s Wedding, Candy, Underbelly and Babe: 

Pig in the City with leading roles in stage musicals Witches of Eastwick, We Will Rock You, Company, and Georgie Girl: Story of the Seekers.

The lead roles are played by Adam Sillis (Home and away, Cloudstreet, Angelfish) and Caitlin Ashley Thompson (Scream: The TV Series, Supernatural, Have You Heard about Charlie). 

The role of Dr Lorna James is played by Carla Bonner, known for her roles on Neighbours, Wentworth, and the recent Channel 7 series the Claremont Killings. 

The Role of Dr Toby Sealey is played Oliver Wen who is known for his roles in Packed to the Rafters, Home and Away, Top of the Lake and Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch stories.

“The whole cast in interested in the world of pharmaceuticals and how they are created whilst also being mindful of the fact that ‘big pharma’ makes a lot of money, and that people are experimented on in Africa and the whole industry comes with a lot of faults,” Mr Fabretti told the Herald.


He wants audiences to ask themselves what ails them and do they have a cure.

“A good theatre production should first diagnose the patient before finding a cure. The play looks at the world right now and the pressures of the modern world, hyper-capitalism being stuffed down our throats and investigating what the cures need to be.”

The production runs from May 18 to June 3 at Victoria Hall on High Street. For tickets head to http://www.fremantletheatrecompany.com/what-s-on


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