Fractal Distraction Theatre Company provide Fringe-goers with an escape into dark dystopian future Pharmacophilia, written by Emily Young. Set in 2087, the population of Great Britain is kept compliant through the government’s compulsory prescription of Seratraxine. Unable to think for themselves, citizens go through their daily lives happily oblivious to the horrific scientific research conducted under government instruction. Seratraxine is administered to adults and children alike to prevent an aggressive psychological disorder called ‘the rage’, and those with a tolerance to the drug are instructed to consume higher doses and regular observation.

Detailed writing ties into current social and political events that Pharmacophilia feels almost too close to home.

There are those who rebel in secret against these extreme oppressive measures; the Dissenters. If discovered they disappear from their community, and are framed for murder through contracting ‘the rage’ by government officials in cahoots with the media. Ester (Hannah Woodger) is prescribed a higher dose of Seratraxine, suddenly resisting the effect of the drug, she begins to question the world around her, as though seeing it for the first time. Ester lives with her husband Laurie (Joshua Buttery-Clements), a primary school teacher who admits he had to alert authorities to the abuse of one of his students, who was being denied Seratraxine by his Dissenter parents and thus had been taken into care.

Ester, growing more disconnected and suspicious of everyone around her confides in her best friend Erin (Orla O’Sullivan), and we are launched into a series of thrilling events. Throughout the first half of the show, we see a highly skilled company of young actors plunge their audience into this grim future through ensemble movement sequences and clever dialogue which command the stage effectively. Orla O’Sullivan stands out particularly, providing moments of much needed comedy and warmth through her performance as Erin. The audience are transfixed, filled with anxiety for the characters.

Detailed writing ties into current social and political events that Pharmacophilia feels almost too close to home. However, as soon as we see a cliché ‘baddie’ armed with a plastic gun and a scrappy attempt at stage violence, the tension dissipates and takes us right out the world of the play. From this point onwards we get the impression of the company trying to mimic the climactic half of a sci-fi thriller we’d see in the cinema, but onstage, and it does not work in this instance. 

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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The Blurb

In 2087, a drug called Seratraxine is being used by the British government to keep the population unreactive, unquestioning and submissive. Living without negative emotions, the general public believe that they are in Utopia, but this is far from the truth. Covered up by the government and media, half the world is embroiled in cataclysmic warfare and in the UK, horrific medical experiments and assassinations of anyone questioning the regime go unnoticed. This is a timely, poignant story of a group of ordinary people attempting to tear down the veil of lies which surrounds them.