Big Pharma

A competent performance depressed by a one-sided argument

Jennifer Berry takes exception to the fun and smiley television advertisements for antidepressants that feature women riding horses, running through grassy fields, and laughing while holding their adoring children. The first character Berry inhabits in her new solo show bashing these shameless ads is an unapologetic psycho-pharmaceutical ad executive blithely explaining the unsavory facts. With an annual budget of $120 million, she explains, drug companies are skipping the doctors and appealing directly to their target markets: children, minorities, and new mothers — with their biggest customers being women in their 30s. As a member of that last category, Berry depicts firsthand the fallout within her generation. While photographs of friends appear behind her, Berry deftly inhabits and portrays the distant, forgetful, and passionless people her loved ones have become after taking prescriptions of Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. The message is frightening and sad, but one-sided. Because Berry chooses to tell only the terrible downside to these drugs, avoiding any success stories, her otherwise competent performance is shrouded in a depressive gloom, making the evening seem more like a personal vendetta than a compellingly thought-out argument. — Nathaniel Eaton

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