Just as the free National Theatre streamings during lockdown put theatre within reach to people all across the world, so theatre’s current digital output provides a sharp and necessary reminder to those of us that live in the South of England that theatre doesn’t begin and end in London.
Created by young Scottish company, Wonder Fools, The Coolidge Effect is a case in point, rambling happily all over the unnecessary trenches that divide podcast from radio plays and radio plays from theatre to create a hybrid in which fiction and fact, the imagined and the found audio collide.
There are moments when it feels as if it might break into a strenuous, jokey Ted Talk; at others its dives into the heads of the characters as it charts the knotty relationship between George, 12 years old and curious, and his porn-addicted dad, Gary, with real delicacy. There is something interesting about a show about porn that comes in aural form because it really makes you use your imagination. I like the fact that it manages to talk about porn in a matter of fact, non-judgemental way. It arrives during a pandemic which has seen porn use rocketing.
Robbie Gordon in The Coolidge Effect at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Photo by Beth Chalmers and Jassy Earl.
Written by Jack Nurse and Robbie Gordon, it takes its name from a 1950s experiment that discovered that over time male rats start to mate less often with the same female rate but keeps up his sex drive when new females are introduced. For rats it appears that variety is indeed the spice of life. So it proves for humans too, and the free availability of porn means that variety has never been so easily available. But what happens to the human brain and sex drive when the variety never stops?
Layered with composition and sound from VanIves which provides both emotional undertow, and sometimes the aural equivalent of a ”cold blue light on the face” when a laptop is opened, this is a show that makes connections even as its highlights the disconnects between heart, head and genitals and ponders what the future, including VR, will mean for the porn industry, our sex lives and the ways we connect with each other.
You can find more shows to watch online here in our Streamdoor guide.
And if you're looking forward to getting back to live theatre here are some shows you can get excited about that are already booking for late this year and next year, including drive-ins and outdoor shows