Clinical trials with Anna McGahan

Anna McGahan in The Effect - Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company [iamge supplied]
Anna McGahan in The Effect – Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company [image supplied]
QLD Aussie Theatre writer Rebecca Grennan caught up with Anna McGahan, star of QTC’s production of The Effect, to chat about love and other drugs.

Winner of the UK Critic’s Circle Theatre Award for Best New Play in 2012, The Effect is a co-production between Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company, and opened last night at QTC’s Bille Brown Studio.

The story follows psychology student Connie, who signs up for a clinical trial of a new super anti-depressant drug. When she meets charming, self-assured Tristan, the trial becomes more than an experiment, but an exploration of the mind, the heart, and reality.

Connie is played by Anna McGahan, who up until just a few years ago, was an unknown graduate from the QUT’s Fine Arts degree, eager to make her mark on the performing world. In no time at all, McGahan has become a sweetheart on the Australian Television and Theatrical scene with roles in House Husbands and Underbelly: Razor and onstage in Managing Carmen.

Anna describes her character Connie as a 20 year-old psychology student who is “closed, mysterious and has a big need to be in control.” Anna adds, “As a psychology student, she’s very logical. [The play] has a head versus heart theme.  Connie is the head, Tristan is the heart.”

Tristan, played by Sydney based actor Mark Leonard Winter, is another clinical trial volunteer. The story evolves as Tristan and Connie’s subtle attraction becomes a fully-fledged flirtation when sealed off from the outside world.

While being the only girl in the trial, most of the creative team behind the scenes are female, including director Sarah Goodes, set and costume designer Renee Mulder and British playwright Lucy Prebble, whose previous work includes the TV series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Joining McGahan onstage is a powerful cast including AFI Award-winning actress Angie Milliken, best known for her film and TV work on the series MDA and mini-series My Brother Jack, along with esteemed Brisbane-based actor Eugene Gilfedder, and respected Sydney actor Mark Leonard Winter.

McGahan has enjoyed the challenge of working on this contemporary piece and says the audience should expect the play, “to provoke and inspire, with humour and [a] poetic sense of the exploration of science versus art.” She describes The Effect as, “straightforward, punchy and fast moving” – much like McGahan’s amazing career.

The Effect, will play at QTC’s Bille Brown Studio QTC till 5 July. For more information or to book tickets, call 136 246 or visit the Queensland Theatre Company’s website:

Warning: This production contains strong coarse language, nudity and sexual references.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Bobbi-Lea is's QLD Co-ordinator, writer, reviewer, and reporter. She is also an actor, presenter, and theatre/film producer for Drama Queen Productions in Brisbane. Bobbi-Lea holds a Degree in Music Theatre as well as a Degree in Film & TV, and is currently doing her Masters in Screen Production.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

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