• Amy Toledano

The Coolidge Effect presented by Wonderfools 2020

What is it?

An audio play, part of Wonder Fools 2020 Season, Stories to Connect Us.

What is it about?

Porn addiction and more specifically, porn’s role in society. The story offers first-hand accounts and experiences from those who have benefitted from porn. It balances the conversation with a fictional story about Gary (Robbie Gordo) a father who is also a paedophile and his son, George (Robbie Gordon) who has a porn addiction.

How did it make me feel?

The play packs a lot in fifty short minutes. And while the scientific experiments and first-hand accounts are interesting, the narrative of the play gets lost in the noise. Because of this, the story becomes two dimensional, never allowing the audience to see the humanity of Gary. This is already a tough feat on its own, considering that Gary is a paedophile, but we the audience don’t need to hear him masturbating to teen porn if the sole goal is to show his disgusting true nature. That’s already implied.

Besides Gary and his son George, we are also introduced to Gail, a porn producer and Retrospect, an ex-porn addict. As these two characters don’t get as much audio time, their stories are never fully developed and the intention behind them is lost. Furthermore, Retrospect only speaks in riddles and there is a whole section in which Gail speaks, and then in turn other characters speak over her, which forces her words to just turn into noise.

At the end of the piece, Gary, after masturbating to a teen at a takeaway shop, returns home to his son George, who he’s been neglecting. It’s as if all of Gary’s problems will soon wash away because he’s now opening up to his son. But father/son relationships, toxic masculinity, and paedophilia are much messier than that.

Where is it playing?

The Coolidge Effect is available for download from July 28 until October 3 on the Wonder Fools website.

Anything Else?

The play is equally messy and too neat, which is a shame because the actual Coolidge Effect is very interesting. The play succeeds most when it is focusing on one story instead of the voices of many. Writers Jack Nurse and Robbie Gordon have such a captivating way of telling stories about experiments and rats, and the music of composer, VanIves is so magical, it’s a shame that most of it is overshadowed by disjointed stories.

Rebecca x

The Coolidge Effect is available for download from July 28 until October 3 on the Wonder Fools website.

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