The Coolidge Effect is here and it’s going to ask some awkward questions. Current parlance overuses the word awkward but this one man show really is. Pulling no punches on the topic of pornography and how it can affect mental health, it is willing to try and make sense of a messy subject, through a mixture of light-heartedness and darker material.

What is pornography good for? Does it satisfy our need for sexual fulfilment? Or is society’s laissez-faire attitude to the porn industry loading us with dangerous imagery that we don’t know what to do with?

Over the course of the play, we hear the arguments of psychologists, neo-liberal porn advocates, boys in the playground, academics and a nagging internal voice called ‘Retrospect’. But mainly we hear the supposed normality of a character called Gary.

Single father Gary uses porn frequently and as a result his mind is interrupted with thoughts of desire and lust at inopportune moments. At one point a dance is acted out on stage, a metaphor for what Gary really desires. Intimacy, passion and love shine through in this moment of clarity. It’s sad to think that Gary is so far away from getting there. Complicating things further is Gary’s relationship with his young son. Moments of intrusive thinking are skilfully acted as the audience are asked once more to put themselves in Gary’s shoes.

The Coolidge Effect is communicating that it need not be this way. The everyday nature of porn is clearly harmful for some. Despite the awkwardness, this brave play is likely to remain long in the memory.

by David Lamond

Having recovered, to a certain extent, from years of ill health, David is now studying at Fife College. David hopes to reclaim more of his identity by attending the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and writing down his experiences.