We round up the reviews for Jamie Lloyd’s revival of Lucy Prebble’s play.

(c)Marc Brenner

The Guardian: **** “Senses are sharpened in Jamie Lloyd’s slick, heady revival of Lucy Prebble’s 2012 play. If the script seems somewhat sober compared with the writer’s recent TV heights of I Hate Suzie and Succession, it remains an intellectually and physically intense experience, with subtle edits that sharpen and freshen the text for a stellar new cast. With heightened attention paid to breath, nerves and touch, The Effect ceaselessly questions which parts of our brains and bodies we can rely on and control.”

Evening Standard: **** “Austin and Holdbrook-Smith still manage to give fine, funny performances, and the two leads are terrific. The mercurial Essiedu creates a loose, lairy physicality unlike anything else I’ve seen him do. He’s absolutely matched by Russell, whose understated self-possession is riveting. The short scenes where Connie and Tris explore the mystery and delirium of early romance are lovely.”

The Telegraph: **** “Jamie Lloyd’s production forms a kaleidoscope of questions for audiences as it explores themes of love and mental health amid a drug trial.”

The Stage: ***** “Jamie Lloyd delivers an effortlessly deft revival of Lucy Prebble’s play, set during the clinical trial of a new antidepressant.”

Time Out: *** “As we’d expect from Lloyd, he’s assembled a crack cast including a fabulously naturalistic, loveable Paapa Essiedu (‘I May Destroy You’) as Tristan and Taylor Russell as Connie, straight from the success of the brilliant cannibal love story ‘Bones and All’ – her furrowed brows and constant self-questioning are an excellent contrast to Essiedu’s flirty confidence.”

iNews: *** “Essiedu and Canadian screen star Russell, making a stage debut of note with a performance of startling vulnerability, maintain an admirable level of emotional intensity as they fast-forward from reticence to intimacy and beyond.”

Broadway World: **** “It is the performances that really inject it with pulsating velocity. Essiedu exudes juvenile charm, his body ebbs and flows with each giddy emotion. Russell, critically lauded in Bones and All, is in her stage debut. She more controlled with a nebbish shyness, but her emotional defences soon crumble when he catches her eyes with his boyish grin. Both are endlessly watchable: as the dosages increase their emotions liquify into jittery violence. The eroticism bubbling beneath the frosty surfaces comes to suffocate them.”

theatre.revstan.com: ***** “In allowing the performances to fill the almost entirely blank space, Lloyd helps to emphasise the complexity of humans and the challenge that presents for scientists. A point that is reinforced by the erratic but very human behaviour of the trial participants and those running it.”

WhatsOnStage: ***** “Lloyd’s stylised production underlines both debate and sensation by laying Prebble’s arguments bare, increasing intensity by a focused simplicity.”

The Effect continues to play at the National Theatre until the 7th October.


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