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The Effect

From 25 critic and 161 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Clever

About the show

Britain's National Theatre, Jean Doumanian Productions and Barrow Street Theater present the American premiere of a new play that takes on our pill-popping culture with humor and drama. More…

Hearts racing. Minds reeling. Knees buckling. Connie and Tristan have palpable chemistry—or is it a side effect of a new super-antidepressant? They are volunteers in a clinical trial, but their sudden and illicit romance forces the supervising doctors to face off over the ethical consequences of their work. Directed by David Cromer.

The New York Times

"The irreducibility of love is the subject of 'The Effect', Lucy Prebble’s very clever — and ultimately more than clever — play, artfully directed by David Cromer...'The Effect' benefits from its smaller scale...Cromer has steered these young performers into nakedly passionate portrayals...Ms. Prebble is far too smart to find a firm resolution for the debate at the center of 'The Effect'. But in the end, she leaves room for what might be called a very loving uncertainty." Full Review


"A provocative and powerful drama…The first act of 'The Effect' is mainly expository…By the end of the first act we are sitting on the edge of our seats to discover where all of this is headed…Cromer’s cast is as excellent…'The Effect' is provocative and powerful and should stimulate much discussion...Director David Cromer and his excellent quartet of actors will have you hanging on every word even as you think you know where this is all going–and you would be wrong." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"A bracing investigation into the nature of love that stimulates both the head and the heart. And David Cromer, perhaps the smartest director working today, draws out all the nuances of the competing arguments in a sleek production...The best parts of this production are the performances...Particularly Hudson, who emits the idiosyncratic charms of a young Jeff Goldblum...I fell in love with both him and Flood—and with this play." Full Review

Edge New York

"The energy, acting chops and yes, chemistry between Tristan and Connie is so palpable that it lights up the intimate stage...The play moves at a great pace covering a wealth of subjects from our belief that drugs can solve and save any problem, to what is or is not real in our modern lives. The success of much of this is due to the inspired direction of David Comer whose work has a tension and emotionality that is leagues ahead of most other directors." Full Review


"Prebble's script is full of memorable moments and characters that stab at the heart of Western society's troubling relationship with prescription drugs...David Cromer directs 'The Effect' with clinical precision yet somehow manages to avoid the sterility that tack often entails...The acting is satisfyingly unsafe...Brimming with challenging insight, 'The Effect' is sure to cause some heated post-show discussions, especially in our hypermedicated age." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Lucy Prebble’s smashing medical drama...Prebble is superbly abetted by the director David Cromer’s sleek yet passionate production. He moves the action along so fast it may induce occasional brain whiplash, while maintaining a strong theatrical frame around the proceedings, except when he breaks it for effect. Those effects would not be as powerful as they are without the top-notch work of the cast." Full Review


"The themes and characters draw you in and leave you with much to think about...Even though I found the parallels between the two couples somewhat too schematic, this is an intelligent, exciting play with lots of very sharp dialogue...Fortunately David Cromer's pristine staging is smartly focused on that compelling dialogue and on the performances...The actors are the play's heart and soul." Full Review

New York Daily News

"The mirror-image twosomes are too tidy for a play about the messiness of the medical profession and human emotions. And some twists stretch credulity...Still, the play delivers. And between the topnotch acting and director David Cromer’s brisk staging that makes smart use of projections it’s easy to go with it. 'The Effect' asks provocative questions about the head and the heart. It also manages to appeal to both. Win, win." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The result is a play that thinks and feels like no other I can remember: unapologetically intellectual, but always more relatable and visceral than abstruse...Cromer knows how to yank you into plays, even against your will, and that gift is in full force here. It wouldn't matter if the acting weren't convincing, but it is....Maybe science can't create love. But it can create engrossing, enveloping theatre, as this experiment of Prebble's so solidly proves." Full Review

Stage and Cinema

"Exploring notions of consciousness and identity as they relate to the chemistry in our brains, Ms. Prebble takes us on a breathless ride that is emotionally satisfying and philosophically compelling...Mr. Cromer elicits sharp, dynamic performances from the excellent cast. And although I’m not certain that in the end Ms. Prebble supplies the most complete responses to the unsolvable problems she introduces, her dramatic exploration of her subjects is both riveting and fascinating." Full Review

New York Theater

"'The Effect' has a solid plot; seeds planted early sprout a few surprises...The plot and the deceptively straightforward, largely restrained performances seem mostly in service to a series of intriguing questions threaded throughout the two-hour play, sometimes dramatically, sometimes in the form of debate...The playwright does not offer pat, authoritative-sounding theories to answer these questions. But the warmth, pathos and humor in her writing suggests where she stands." Full Review

Time Out New York

"For a play about test subjects going through extremes, 'The Effect' leaves you slightly cold...It’s a credit to playwright Lucy Prebble’s probity and wit that these questions excite the mind, even if the heart rate remains steady...It’s a solid issue drama that allows room for debate, humor and canny twists...David Cromer’s crisply intelligent production shows a touch of Ivo van Hove's Euro-chic, multimedia approach, which suits the material well...The cast does fine work." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"Ms. Prebble kept us on our toes the entire performance through her twists and turns. Ms. Flood and Mr. Hudson kept us entertained with their flirtations and connection. The show educates, informs, and entertains...The relationship between the doctors is a bit less fleshed out and could use some more refinement--or more accurately clarity. Perhaps Ms. Prebble will get an opportunity to have another clinical trial on a larger stage. One might speculate the results would be positive." Full Review

AM New York

"'The Effect' is somewhat compromised by an on-and-off momentum, over-the-top gestures and the deliberately clinical tone. Nevertheless, it makes for a smart, unpredictable drama that asks a lot of disconcerting questions. The cast is quite effective under Cromer’s sharp direction." Full Review


"A provocative if rather scattershot play about the chemistry of the brain, anti-depression drugs and love...Artfully directed by David Cromer and fervently acted by Flood and Hudson, it winds up as a multi-stranded, open-minded consideration of the place of anti-depressant drugs in contemporary lives and relationships...Prebble seems to come down on the side of love as essentially a natural rather than a pharmaceutical phenomenon. It's at that point that the play becomes quite touching." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"Something seems to have been lost crossing the pond, because I fail to see what the fuss was about...It seemed at times repetitive...I mostly enjoyed the first act, but was disappointed when the playwright turned to melodrama midway through the second. The play raises many interesting questions without providing easy answers. Hudson and Brazda are both superb...This play is certainly an improvement over last year’s similarly themed 'Placebo' at Playwrights Horizons, but that is faint praise." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"An interesting but flawed play. 'The Effect' is a provocative experiment gone awry. But it’s intelligent, well-staged and well-acted. If only all theater that didn’t quite work could be this enjoyable an evening...Playwright Lucy Prebble assembles the elements of an intriguing thought experiment. And for about half the evening, a strong cast led by director David Cromer and a crack technical team produce very promising results." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"A clever cocktail of love, depression and pharmaceuticals...Director David Cromer expertly manages the shift from intricate courtly flirtation, reminiscent of Shakespeare or Marivaux, to partial nudity and onstage sex...A debate about the efficacy of antidepressants towards the end seems strident. Transitions between scenes can also be awkward...It’s not entirely clear what 'The Effect' has to say about contemporary psychiatry. Perhaps there simply are no ready answers." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A sugar coated, occasionally witty look at the situation...There are good performances all around but outstanding is that by Carter Hudson...'The Effect,' frankly, begins to have little effect over the course of two hours." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Under David Cromer’s careful direction, the ensemble cast members deliver spirited performances and maneuver skillfully through the playwright’s plot surprises and thematic strands...The lack of the ability to connect in any meaningful way with the play’s principals leaves 'The Effect' with a less than satisfying effect on the audience...Despite this, the play is an interesting exploration into the vicissitudes of love and its provenance." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The premise is clever—and director David Cromer has a track record of brilliant conceptions—but the production, despite excellent performances, doesn’t quite click...While Cromer has a sharp cast, the plot is iffy. 'The Effect' is a great premise for a serious discussion on why drug therapy may or may not work and the possible social consequences that follow. But as dramatic fodder, it’s a hard pill to swallow." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"It's an unusual, even provocative premise...Too bad, then, that Prebble distorts her subject matter with so much hokum...The author has some mordant points to make, but she undercuts them by making her characters behave like refugees from a sweeps-week episode of 'General Hospital'...The director, David Cromer, handles the actors as well as can be expected under these increasingly unconvincing circumstances...Prebble is a writer with talent; she should learn to get out of her own way." Full Review

The Wrap

"Lucy Prebble‘s 'The Effect' is half good. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong half...The physical side of the production is stunning and complicated in its mix of the eerie and the sterile...Much of it is not drama. It’s just speeches, one after the other. One doctor even begins to sound a lot like Tom Cruise. Remember when the movie star went off on Brooke Shields years ago because she treated her postpartum depression with drugs? That’s where Prebble takes 'The Effect.'" Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Provocative themes don't always make for compelling drama...'The Effect' is never as convincing as the intellectual arguments in which its characters frequently engage...The new play also suffers from lack of specificity — the characterizations of the protagonists are sketchy at best — and melodramatic plot developments that don't feel fully credible. Despite being cut by more than a half-hour in its transfer across the pond, the play lacks narrative momentum and often feels repetitive." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Both actors are fantastic to watch...It’s a heady complex topic that sometimes felt too emotional and far too simply debated in maybe a much too contrived setup, but Prebble makes an interesting idea come alive, with lots of questions being asked, but no real obvious answers given." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy shows that target interesting issues that you might not otherwise think about

Don't see it if you have problems with nudity or strong language or if you have issues with shows that deal with mental health

Original, Profound, Quirky, Romantic, Absorbing

See it if You want to be challenged to think about the nature of the self and emotions, are interested in mental health, and enjoy a love story

Don't see it if You only like simple stories

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Masterful, Thought-provoking

See it if Like smart thought provoking theatre

Don't see it if Are put off from blood being taken on stage

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Great acting

See it if You like clever writing, great acting.

Don't see it if ?

Intense, Emotionally engaging, Great acting, Great writing, Absorbing

See it if You appreciate strong acting performances and can handle tough material. The writing and acting is incredibly strong.

Don't see it if You don't like intense subject matter or highly dramatic material. This is an emotional roller coaster

Great acting, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Funny, Relevant

See it if You enjoy great acting and thought-provoking questions about different perceptions of how we should look at people and our mental health.

Don't see it if You don't like thought-provoking questions about your own life

Thought-provoking, Riveting, Resonant, Profound, Refreshing

See it if you're looking for a cool, thought-provoking off-Broadway show.

Don't see it if you don't like mentally stimulating theater.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You like intelligent story

Don't see it if Dont like medical trial

Ambitious, Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense

See it if If you love new plays that deal with current issues through interesting and funny characters.

Don't see it if If you like plays that give you all of the answers.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if You appreciate thoughtful, original, relevant. memorable but disturbing drama

Don't see it if You do not appreciate dark themes and drama but, rather, enjoy primarily fluffy musicals and mindless low comedy

Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if One of the best plays I've seen, thoroughly engaging story, excellently acted

Don't see it if I can't say anything negative about it

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Must see

See it if you're interested in pointed pieces of art that examine contemporary issues through captivating narratives.

Don't see it if you prefer art that is easy to swallow.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Intense

See it if you like intense and, at times, amusing drama

Don't see it if you are impatient

Intelligent, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy a good drama

Don't see it if you do not getting inside a small, intriguing performance

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy a thought provoking, well acted play.

Don't see it if You want a mindless night of theater.

Intelligent, Great acting, Great staging, Quirky, Challenging

See it if you enjoy intelligent theatre with terrific performances and great direction. David Cromer is one of our great directors.

Don't see it if you do not like intelligent theatre.

Great acting, Intelligent, Original, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if you are ready to pay attention to details and think

Don't see it if you want something light and fluffy

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great staging, Clever

See it if you want ethically complicated, romantic, well written and performed story

Don't see it if i dont know why you dont want to see this

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if You're interested in questions about relationships, mental health, and how our biological make-up may or may not determine our actions.

Don't see it if You're looking for light entertainment or an action-packed evening.

Refreshing, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Romantic, Quirky

See it if you like to have big ideas peppered into your theatre, since there's neat science you'll want to talk about afterwards. And it's saucy fun.

Don't see it if you need a clean ending, since the end is the weakest part of this show. Or if you might be bothered by some potentially spurious science.

Absorbing, Clever, Original, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like thought-provoking plays with humor, especially those that explore modern social/cultural trends.

Don't see it if you're looking for a fluffy entertainment or a crowd-pleaser for out-of-towners.

Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great acting, Confusing, Absorbing

See it if you like plays with unconventional themes and plays that make you think.

Don't see it if you prefer to avoid sex and nudity on stage, even when tastefully done.

Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like an entertaining naturalistic drama with good actors who deliver the issues with commitment and purpose.

Don't see it if you don't like to be challenged with questions about the effects of drug-trials and the physiology of love.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Original, Intense

See it if You like intelligent, psychological theatre.

Don't see it if You are easily bored by thought provoking theatre that might seem a bit slow at times.

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in a thought provoking play about the chemistry of love.

Don't see it if You are looking for a musical or light hearted play.

Cast & Creatives (13)