To celebrate the launch of The Effect, we sit down with co-stars to discuss chemistry, comfort zones, complex subject matter and more

From the writer of Emmy-winning cultural satire Succession comes The Effect — an exquisite play presented by Auckland Theatre Company set to captivate New Zealand audiences this April and May. With a stellar cast and Lucy Prebble’s name on the credits, this theatrical masterpiece which calls into question the role of pharmaceuticals in matters of the heart is one of the most highly-anticipated cultural events of the year, and for good reason.

Co-stars Zoë Robins as Connie Hall & Jayden Daniels as Tristan Frey

Exploring complex and captivating themes — from mental health to human attraction, medical ethics and more, The Effect (fresh from a critically acclaimed 2023 season at London’s National Theatre) promises to transport guests into the hearts and minds of the starring cast, with British playwright Lucy Prebble (Executive Producer of Succession and Co-Writer of I Hate Suzie) imbuing the narrative with her razor-sharp flair and incredible knack for exploring the intricacies of the human condition.

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Left: Sara Wiseman as Dr Lorna James. Right: Jarod Rawiri as Dr Toby Sealey

Here, we sit down with co-stars Zoë Robins & Jayden Daniels as they begin their four-week run, to discuss on-stage chemistry, the joys of live performance, and the magic of stepping outside of your comfort zone.

The Effect is on now until the 11th of May at ASB Waterfront Theatre. Book tickets here.

Exclusive Q&A
Zoë Robins & Jayden Daniels

Firstly, tell me about The Effect — in your words, what’s the play about?

J: The Effect is about two people who fall in love, paralleled by two others who seem to have fallen out of love. It deals with the feelings and emotions of the head and the heart, and questions whether we have a firm grasp on what causes these emotions, and what affects them. It tackles and tries to unpack big questions around love, depression and pharmaceuticals, without necessarily trying to answer them.

What drew you to the play initially? How did your casting come about?

Z: Our amazing Director, Ben Kilby-Henson, approached my agent last year. I had been wanting to do a play for a while, as I’d been feeling the need to challenge and stretch myself as an actor. I think The Effect has definitely has done that for me. And I love Ben and Lucy Prebble’s incredible writing.

J: My agent reached out and told me that Director, Ben Kilby-Henson, was interested in seeing me for the role of Tristan. As soon as I read the script I knew I wanted to do it. I spent a long time trying to unpack what I had just read, and when I tried to imagine anyone else playing the role of Tristan I would get envious. I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with this amazing team.

The play tackles big themes, from mental health to the nature of human attraction, love, and even medical ethics — how do you prepare for broaching this kind of subject matter? Did you draw on personal experience, or seek inspiration elsewhere?

Z: I try to seek inspiration from everywhere — all of it is useful. Our first week of rehearsals involved a lot of research and discussions, exploring those bigger, more complex topics. I had very little knowledge about drug trials in general, so learning about them was pretty eye-opening.

J: With any role I try to build the base of the character from my lived and experienced emotions. I then have this to heighten or pull back on. In this case, I also watched, read and listened to real people’s experiences to add depth to my portrayal of Tristan.

Your characters have incredible on-stage chemistry, what influences this, and how hard is it to achieve?

Z: I think we all knew what we were signing up for having read the play, so that helps — there was never any confusion around how intimate we would need to be on stage. There is a level of trust that’s required, and we’ve found that with each other.

J: Chemistry with another actor is always something I’m nervous about, especially in this instance given the play’s subject matter, but luckily with Zoë there was a willingness and trust there that made it feel easy.

How important is it to gel with your co-star? How does this impact your personal performance? 

Z: It’s important but it’s not a given. We rarely get a say when it comes to who we work alongside, so as an actor you need to stay as open as possible. With that said, it does make the job a whole lot easier and much more enjoyable when you like each other! It’s wonderful that our cast for The Effect have such strong love and respect for each other, we’re super lucky.

As an actor, what’s the most challenging part of a production like this? And what do you enjoy the most?

Z: Working with some truly inspiring creatives has been the highlight. This group of people are so motivated to make something beautiful and moving. The most challenging aspect for me has been feeling out of my comfort zone many times, but it’s been necessary.

J: The fact that we will be doing the show something like 25 times is new to me — I’ve never run a piece that long. Usually with screen, I’m doing a scene on a day and then never touch it again, so it’ll be a great challenge to constantly inject newness in the work and keep it alive for the audience.

Having both worked across TV, film, and the theatre, what’s unique about plays? What do you love most about performing for a live audience?

Z: The live aspect of plays means that there is no such thing as a solidified performance — each performance is different from the last. I think as an actor there is so much more freedom in that, and I think it’s more tailored towards the actor’s process.

J: A live audience is a beautiful thing. You are constantly getting instant feedback and an audience adds so much to the play — helping you to discover things that you otherwise couldn’t.

What exciting things are on the horizon for you both? What are you most looking forward to right now?

Z: Right now I’m looking forward to The Effect! And for people to experience how incredible it is.

J: Currently, I’m looking forward to getting this show in front of audiences. I’ve also been given funding to write a film, which is exciting and another huge challenge.

The Effect’s Cast

Finally, tell us why we need to see The Effect

Z: You may laugh. You may cry. Hopefully you will be moved. Our production design team has made something spectacular, so prepare to be wowed. 

J: This is truly a play that will take you on an emotional journey and have you moved by the end of it. It will leave you with questions and thoughts to take away and discuss and mull over. It’s also just a really cool piece of work, and has been crafted with love by a group of very talented people.

Image credit: SIGNY & Andi Crown


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