The Sugar Syndrome

The Sugar Syndrome

The first major revival of Lucy Prebble’s debut play

Lyn Gardner avatar
25 January 2020  ·  Follow on Stagedoor
“When Dani, a 17-year-old bulimic with a difficult home life meets a paedophile, Tim, in a chatroom she does nothing to correct his assumption that she is an 11-year-old boy. She even arranges to meet him and in an unexpected turn of events the two turn out to be a source of mutual support. Written in 2003 when she was just 22, The Sugar Syndrome bristled with all the promise of the playwright who has gone on to write Enron, last year’s Old Vic hit A Very Expensive Poison, and The Effect. The latter will be revived at the Boulevard Theatre in a couple of months. In the meantime, enjoy a play that considers the limits of empathy, the endless possibilities of cruelty and what we really mean by desire.”


I like the internet. I like that way of talking to people. It’s honest. It’s a place where people are free to say anything they like. And most of what they say is about sex.

Dani is 17. She’s looking to meet someone honest and direct. What she finds is a man twice her age who thinks she’s an 11-year-old boy.

– I’m sorry I’m not the freak show you expected.
– We’re on the same side of the bars I think.

A devastatingly and disturbingly funny exploration of an unlikely friendship, our desire to connect, and the limits of empathy. Her work includes A Very Expensive Poison, The Effect and ENRON on stage and the BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning Succession on screen.

Contains adult themes, sexual content and strong language.

Critic reviews

Lucy Prebble's dark encounters still connect

The Guardian

Strong revival of Lucy Prebble’s intriguing debut play about a middle-aged man and a young girl who meet in a chatroom

The Stage

Excellent revival of Lucy Prebble's disturbing debut play about illegal desire

The Arts Desk

For all its youthful flaws, it's a play that flickers with exhilarating energy, well worth this revival


Newcomer Jessica Rhodes is magnetic in Lucy Prebble's prescient play

Evening Standard

A sharp-edged, provocative piece, laced with jagged humour

The Times

A striking and difficult exploration of loneliness, self-doubt and the darkness of humanity

Broadway World

The Sugar Syndrome reveals bitter aftertaste of cybersex


A great turn from newcomer Jessica Rhodes adds some spark to the first ever revival for Lucy Prebble’s of-its-time debut

Time Out

Prebble’s warning remains as relevant as ever

A Younger Theatre

A strong and polished production of Lucy Prebble’s debut play which hits differently in 2020

Everything Theatre

A sugary surface with an achingly bitter aftertaste


Date & time

Show ended
Fri 24 Jan - Sat 22 Feb, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Runtime: 2 hrs 20 mins


1 Clarence Street Richmond, Surrey TW9 2SA London, UK · Get Directions
out of 5 stars
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