The Effect is a clinical romance. Two young volunteers, Tristan and Connie, agree to take part in a clinical drug trial. Succumbing to the gravitational pull of attraction and love, however, Tristan and Connie manage to throw the trial off course, much to the frustration of the clinicians involved.
The Effect was Prebble's first play after the critical and commercial success achieved by Enron. Its first production at the National Theatre, London, reunited Prebble with the director of Enron, Rupert Goold, who together delivered a vibrant theatrical exploration into the human brain via the heart. This funny, moving and perhaps surprisingly human play explores questions of sanity, neurology and the limits of medicine, alongside ideas of fate, loyalty and the inevitability of physical attraction.
Described in the Financial Times as 'a scintillating exploration of the clash between scientific advance and human impulse', the world premiere, co-produced by Headlong, was performed at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre from November 2012–February 2013, starring Billie Piper and Jonjo O'Neill.