An interview with Kathryn King, the Director of 'The Effect'-"A play about sanity, medicine, fate, loyalty and the inevitability of physical attraction."
I recently interviewed Kathryn King, who is the director of the Four Wheeled Theatre in Loughborough about a play called 'The Effect.' For more inside info...keeep reading :)
What is your play about?
‘The Effect’ centres around four characters involved in a clinical drugs trial for a new anti-depressant. Dr James and Toby are the doctors administering the trial. Dr James is a psychiatrist and she monitors the effects of the drug on the volunteers. She suffers from quite severe depression but, ironically, doesn’t believe in the effectiveness of anti-depressants. Fellow doctor Toby, takes a less active role in the trial. He is higher up on the career ladder than Dr James, and the two doctors often disagree on Toby’s attitude towards medicine as a business.
At the same time, we follow Connie and Tristan's story, two of the volunteers. Connie is a psychology student, who has decided to take part in the trial as a supplement to her studies. Tristan is a traveller and ‘free spirit’. They form a strong romantic bond, though we quickly begin to question whether or not this is simply a side effect of the drug.
What inspired you to make a play about these themes?
I have been taking various anti-depressants since I was 18 and have lived with depression since childhood. I think having depression for most of my life has impacted the way I view the world, and when I read ‘The Effect’ I realised that I had found a play which addressed this with honesty. One of Dr James’ lines really stands out to me:
“Every study, every test shows that so-called ‘depressed’ people have a more accurate view of the world, a more realistic view of themselves and the future - […] We’re not deluded, we’ve just lost a delusion that makes us ‘normal’.”
While I don’t necessarily agree with everything Dr James believes and say about depression (her refusal to medicate for example), I think that the above passage sums up my reasons for directing this play. It provides an excellent platform to open up discussions about depression. The debates between Dr James and Toby about, what is essentially the existence of depression, is something that I have not come across before in theatrical form. And so, I couldn’t not do it!
Do you think that in modern day, logic and emotion can work in harmony?
This question reminds me of those tests you get on Facebook. The ones about ‘Which side of the brain are you?’ I’ve never really understood them because they imply that you can’t be both.
(I’ve done the tests by the way, and I got ‘equally left and
Thank you. So you can be both logical and emotional?
In the context of the play though, it’s certainly the issue that underlies it all. Connie questions whether or not Tristan is on a placebo. This upsets her because she is worried that the drug is causing her emotions to overpower her logic. Whereas Tristan is supposedly acting clear-headed and has control over his emotions. So I suppose the question is – if your emotions are being manipulated, can you trust your own logic? This is the problem that Dr James has with anti-depressants. She believes that she is her ‘true’ self without medication, and that her emotions and logic would be affected if she were to take drugs. I think this is a fear that I also have, and perhaps in the modern-day, where 1 in 11 adults in Britain are prescribed anti-depressants, the balancing of logic and emotion is becoming a concern for more and more people.
This has themes of 'sanity, neurology and the limits of medicine, alongside ideas of fate, loyalty and the inevitability of physical attraction' are explored. How do you think they are all linked?
Gosh that’s a big question!
Haha! (Please do answer it!)
Certainly neurology is linked to physical attraction. There is an abundance of papers and lectures on the subject, and it’s basically what the whole play is about! Loyalty is harder to link to physical attraction because it tends to be a result of longer- term relationships, where loyalty has had a chance to establish. Though in the case of ‘The Effect’, everything is heightened by the drug so we have to accept that this is an extreme case scenario, where two people might be able to at least replicate a stronger, more long term bond.
Ultimately, the themes are all linked because they are all linked to love. Or lust. Whichever you’d describe Connie and Tristan’s relationship as. They’re all quite big themes, and you could write another hundred plays on the topic while barely scratching the surface, but we’re definitely digging deeper with ‘The Effect’.
Which one do you think comes first? Physical attraction or loyalty? Why?
In a romantic relationship, assuming it originated in physical attraction, I would assume the former would appear first, and then loyalty would grow in time.The pair struggle when secrets are kept from one another, despite the shortness of their relationship. The issues lie in an imbalance between each person’s feelings of loyalty towards the other.
Is this a 'head over heart'/Science vs Art/ Logic vs Emotion inner-battle that the human state goes through?
The play definitely covers logic vs emotion, as you mentioned in your previous question. It makes the battle between head over heart quite literal by putting the characters in a situation where their emotions are potentially not trustworthy, but neither are their ‘heads’.
Which main lessons do you hope for your audience to take away?
I’d like to open up the conversation about depression. It’s definitely becoming a less ‘taboo’ subject, and it’s exciting to see it represented on stage in a very physical form. I think a lot of people can identify with feelings of depression, whether short term or long term, and it can be quite a personal thing. I’d like to think that people will leave the show and want to talk about it. That’s really all I’d want.
Thank you so much for this opportunity Kathryn, it was great being able to discuss these topics with you. I really DO hope this opens up communication about depression, and stamps out the stigma of Mental Health.
If you are suffering from a Mental Health problem, please seek out help. Talk to someone you trust. Talk to your GP about your concerns.
I hope and pray you recover :)