The Sugar Syndrome

Lucy Prebble

Royal Court Theatre Upstairs

(2003)

Review by Philip Fisher

MSN has recently announced the closure of its chatrooms. If the experiences of Dani, the heroine of The Sugar Syndrome, are anything to go by, it is just as well.

In her own persona, she meets the dreadful, geeky telesalesman Lewis (Will Ash). When she pretends to be an 11 year old boy, she finds Tim, a former Public School teacher with a taste for little boys.

While Dani is seemingly the mature one of a bunch that also includes her self-deluding mother, she is no paragon. Despite tremendous results in school, she has just returned from two months in a clinic recovering from bulimia.

Stephanie Leonidas gives a great performance as the teenager who has to support mother, geek and pervert. She has far too much strength, though, for the sick girl that she is supposed to be, just as the dry Andrew Woodall makes an overly sympathetic Tim. Woodall is very witty and shows remorse, but his sins are almost completely swept under the carpet as he takes Dani under his wing.

Marianne Elliott draws very powerful performances from Miss Leonidas and Woodall and maintains interest in the fates of these four flawed people.

Some of the motivations are a little awry and Lucy Prebble tries to put too many complications into her first play. Despite this, she writes well, with great humour and compassion and creates interesting characters about whom it is easy to care.