Review: The Sugar Syndrome at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre is more sour than sweet

By Emily Hemsley
February 11 2020, 10.00

The Sugar Syndrome is more sour than sweet, with dark humour and disturbingly honest themes that could make your stomach churn. 

This play will leave you feeling uncomfortable, as it explores the bleakest depths of our modern society through the eyes of a troubled teenage girl.

Written by Lucy Pebble, her debut play, The Sugar Syndrome at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, sees 17-year-old Dani, tackling dark themes including the dangers of the internet, eating disorders, and paedophilia.

Dani, played by Jessica Rhodes in her first professional stage role, pretends to be an 11-year-old boy online, forming a twisted and unlikely friendship with a man twice her age, Tim, as they help each other try to resist their disordered temptations.

“I like the internet. I like that way of talking to people. It’s honest. It’s a place where people are free to say anything they like. And most of what they say is about sex.”Dani, The Sugar Syndrome

Young audiences can resonate with Dani, as she struggles with loneliness, sex, conflict within the family, feeling unloved, not fitting in at school and eating disorders in an honest but harsh light – even purging on stage, presenting the harsh realities of anorexia.  

Each of the four characters share a common sense of isolation as they battle sombre themes.

Throughout the two hour performance, the audience, who are seated circling the stage in the intimate theatre, are immersed in the play by the impressive use of stage production with the use of lighting and props. 

This play is provocative, highly charged and funny and thought-provoking with a recommended trigger-warning for those with a faint heart. 

The Sugar Syndrome runs until 22nd February at the Orange Tree Theatre, 1 Clarence Street, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 2SA. Tickets start from £15 and can be brought online at: orangetreetheatre.co.uk

Related Articles