Effective Harlequin Hi-Shine on stage in Frankfurt

3rd March 2020

The English Theatre Frankfurt in Germany, the largest English-speaking theatre in continental Europe, is currently showing the award-winning play The Effect by Lucy Pebble. The production analyses the question of whether love is magical mystery or merely a chemical reaction which can be achieved through medication.

The Effect at the English Theatre Frankfurt: A clinical trial plays with peoples' affections
Photo © Martin Kaufhold

The play was directed by Audrey Sheffield and seeks to examine human nature while taking its audience on a journey of discovery with a few surprising plot twists.

The Effect at the English Theatre Frankfurt: Connie and Tristan getting to know each other
Photo © Martin Kaufhold

The protagonists Connie and Tristan meet during a clinical trial for an anti-depressant. While they have very different personalities and each has their own reasons for signing up to the trial, they quickly fall in love. But their feelings become overshadowed by doubt: Is their love real or merely a side-effect of the drugs they’re testing?

The Effect at the English Theatre Frankfurt: Connie and Tristan wondering about their feelings
Photo © Martin Kaufhold

The stage design and costumes by Anna Orton cleverly create a clinical environment: The trial participants are uniformly dressed in tracksuits reminiscent of scrubs, the medical examiners wear lab coats and the stage looks like a laboratory. This was achieved using 120m² of white Harlequin Hi-Shine vinyl stage floor, which can be styled to look chic and elegant or clinically clean depending on the set. The addition of top tape divided the vinyl into rectangles and made it appear like giant tiles for an even more clinical feel.

The Effect at the English Theatre Frankfurt: The aftermath of the trial
Photo © Martin Kaufhold

Anna Orton said about her design: ‘We knew the world needed to be hyper real and clinical. I knew this effect would need to be explored through the use of materials. It became apparent the only way forward was wood effect, marble and high shine (of course!). Kudos to Prema Mehta (lighting designer) for embracing the bounce and doing beautiful work with it! The high gloss floor shine brought the set alive, the reflections of the cast, props, plants on the floor and the walls were just stunning.’

The English Theatre’s production of The Effect was well received, with local press praising it for being “a play which cleverly addresses moral and philosophical questions – and encourages the audience to think for themselves” (Frankfurter Neue Presse) and “entertaining […] with a sort-of happy end” (Kulturfreak).

The Effect at the English Theatre Frankfurt: Connie and Tristan falling in love
Photo © Martin Kaufhold

The Effect is on at the English Theatre until 22 March 2020. Tickets are available from the English Theatre website.

Cast: Rosie Wyatt, Nathan Welsh, Rebecca Calder and Chris Porter