Heads up: The team behind 'Call Girl' embark on a 'clinical romance'


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What are we talking about? A new play from Headlong theatre company, at the National Theatre, promising to be a funny and moving "theatrical exploration into the human brain via the heart".

Elevator pitch Let's get clinical: Piper and Prebble dive headlong into a new romance.

Prime movers It's penned by Lucy Prebble and directed by Rupert Goold. Which is a big deal, because last time they got together, the result was the phenomenally successful Enron … Miriam Buether – who seems to be the name behind many of the most interesting sets on our stages – is in charge of design again, too.

The stars Also high wattage: Billie Piper – former Dr Who assistant, Call Girl, and star of several theatre shows including the lauded Reasons to be Pretty – will be making her National Theatre debut. The cast also includes Anastasia Hille (Women of Troy; Waves) alongside Headlong regulars, Tom Goodman-Hill and Jonjo O'Neill.

The early buzz Time Out said: "After the blockbuster (well, in Britain at least) success of Enron, its dream team of director Rupert Goold and playwright Lucy Prebble are reunited for this brand new endeavor from Goold's Headlong company. Pathologically likeable telly star Billie Piper heads the cast… As if that wasn't enough, expect a typically mind-boggling set from the brilliant Miriam Buether." Website A Little Bird featured the play in its autumn hot list, writing: "The Effect, described as a 'clinical romance exploring questions of sanity, neurology and medicine' may not sound immediately appealing, but then nor did a play about a corrupt energy company."

Insider knowledge It isn't the first time Piper and Prebble have worked together: Prebble adapted Belle de Jour's Secret Diary of a Call Girl for the TV show, in which Piper starred.

It's great that… after a three-year hiatus since Enron, Prebble is back with a new script (no pressure…).

It's a shame that… it's in the small Cottesloe Theatre, which will make nabbing a ticket a challenge… queue for returns, or get in quick when more tickets are released next month.

Hit potential It's got all the right names attached, and has sold well so far – whether they've pulled off an Enron-sized success again remains, of course, to be seen.

The details The Effect is at the National Theatre, London SE1 (nationaltheatre.org.uk), 6 November to 23 January.