The Effect Rehearsal Diary – Week 3

Lifestyle / Wed 25th May 2016 am31 08:57am

The Effect is the production currently in rehearsal by the Moot House Players, directed by Harry Tennison. This diary covers their rehearsal process from the first week of rehearsals to the final night. The Effect follows Connie and Tristan as they are involved in a clinical drugs trail for a new antidepressant drug. The production runs at Moot Hall on the 7th, 8th and 9th of July, and tickets are available from www.moothouseplayers.com. This weeks entry is completed by James Miller, who plays Toby.

So it falls to me to offer up the diary entry for this weeks; rehearsals of The Effect. I am playing Dr Toby Sealey, the guy from the drugs company who is in charge of the trials around which the play revolves. Toby is an intriguing character, remote, aloof and extremely self confident but occasionally he shows a fleeting sensitive chink in his armour. This makes him a challenge to ‘get’; because there is always the thought that the bombastic confidence may be a cover for a more uncertain soul underneath. Do we ever find out who is the real Toby? You’ll have to see the play to find out!

This week we have been working on Toby’s big scene which fills me with dread and excitement in equal measure as it is a solo piece delivering two full pages of script in the form of a lecture. I, therefore, have the intriguing task of effectively performing twice at the same time when I, in the role of Toby, ‘perform’ his lecture. Straight drama is not familiar territory for me – I usually stick to music, comedy or both – so when I said I wanted a challenge and this role was offered I really couldn’t say no.

Whilst waiting for props, we are forced to resort to alternative substitutes... James Miller as Toby.

Whilst waiting for props, we are forced to resort to alternative substitutes… James Miller as Toby.

One particular delight of doing this play is the opportunity to be directed for the first time by my dear and very talented friend Harry Tennison which is proving to be a marvellous and educational experience. Whilst the subject matter may at first appear heavy, rest assured there are some glorious nuggets of humour to lighten the journey through this thought provoking piece.

The issues raised in this play have a very personal resonance having experienced the effects of mental illness first hand with a bout of depression in my teens, and having sufferers amongst family and friends. I suspect there are few people who have haven’t been touched by mental illness in some way and thankfully it is now taking a more prominent position in the consciousness of Government, health professionals and the public in general. This can only be for the good in helping to remove the stigma that has long haunted sufferers of mental illness. It is my fervent hope that we can, with The Effect, make our contribution to the ongoing discussion to promote understanding and progress to the point where the word ‘mental’ is superfluous and we think only of illness.

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