Reviewed by David Smith
Megan Dansie’s secure direction was evident throughout this demanding piece. She cast the play effectively and staged it on a starkly spare set, which concentrated the audience’s attention on the characters and their often strained and raw emotions.
That’s not to say there was no humour or lightness in the piece. Act 1 in particular explored a number of very funny moments, in contrast to the seriousness, threats and sadness in Act 2.
The play examines the psychological, emotional and ethical consequences of conducting drug trials on volunteers. The four main actors more than competently illustrated those effects.
Bronwyn Palmer and David Salter, playing the two volunteers in the trial, were exceptional. From their very first few awkward moments, through their increasing passion and then on to questioning anger and bald aggression, they were entirely convincing and credible. They were different but equal in emotional weight and power. Connie is the more empathetic and questioning while Tristan is, superficially at least, the more naturally confident, playful and street smart. Salter, displaying his dramatic depth, was especially believable when showing us Tristan’s gradual recovery from the seizure.
They were well supported by Cate Rogers as Lorna, the supervising doctor with her own self-doubts and ethical questions, and Gary George as her manager and former lover who, by and large, had no such qualms.
In the good hands of AUTG, this play raises many critical questions regarding the human consequences of drug trials. Some are resolved, but several are left hanging, poignantly, at the close.