A dark, edgy romance, Pangdemonium Production's upcoming offering, The Effect, revolves around two young clinical trial volunteers, psychology student Connie and charming slacker Tristan. Sealed off from the real world and monitored by two bickering doctors, they find themselves increasingly attracted to each other.
As the doses double, so do their feelings. But is it all in their heads or their hearts? We spoke to TV host and FLY Entertainment artiste Nikki Muller, who plays Connie, about experiencing heady sensations.
What attracted you to this production?
Any chance to work with the team at Pangdemonium is cause enough to jump in blind! But in this case, I was really captivated by the script. I think this will be one of the most challenging professional projects I'll embark on and I believe you must do what scares you - that builds character. Go from the comfortable to the thrilling!
This is a great piece of work and it asks all the right questions. There's only four of us (Adrian Pang, Tan Kheng Hua, Linden Furnell and I) in this play and I play the female lead who has intense emotional and psychological arcs, so it will be incredibly demanding. There's no hiding behind a large ensemble. This is going to be me, at my most raw. I imagine it'll be like ripping off a Bandaid - so liberating.
Are you a ‘heart person’ or a ‘brain person’ ?
I'm very much a heart person. But too much of anything leaves you unbalanced. I think the happy middle would be the gut. Like Arianna Huffington says, "when your gut is talking, shut up and listen!"
The tango between the heart and mind is always so dizzying and confusing. Our brains are so clever that we can often deceive ourselves in order to protect our heart. I used to be that kind of person and I believe many people are the same way. But 'checking in' with both and always trusting your instinct, even if doesn't make sense, is the honest way to go.
We hear you’ve been hypnotised before! What was that like?
Yes, I was hypnotised on stage whilst hosting a very important event abroad. That was the dumbest idea ever! I didn't mind the process and it was very eye-opening. It was the fact that I collapsed on stage and started bawling like a baby in front of my clients and hundreds of their colleagues, that made me regret ever volunteering. I only said yes so that others would come and join the facilitator on stage, They did, but I think I'm the only one who wailed like a banshee.
Hypnosis is sort of like falling into a deep state of relaxation where all you can hear are faint echoes of the outside world but you are very much "inside" of yourself. The facilitator tapped me on the forehead and I collapsed on the floor, which was what he had told my subconscious to do. The tears that flowed after that were a result of my finally being able to let go of stress and past hurt that I had buried with work, and with always being on the move.
That is exactly what meditation and deep relaxation can do: Unlock all the emotional and psychological blockages. I just wish it didn't happen at work! The worst bit was, when the session ended, I was still meant to continue hosting but I felt delirious and couldn't stop laughing. So everyone was forced to take a coffee break till I got it together again!
This is your fourth outing on stage under the bright lights, what do you love about doing theatre?
I worked with Pangdemonium for the first time in their 2015 season opener, Circle Mirror Transformation. I've adored my roles in Michael Chiang's High Class (my stage debut) and Dick Lee's musical Hotpants. I find that theatre feeds my spirit so the aim is to perform once a year. It's so exciting and there's a lot of creative energy in me that needs to be expressed, so theatre is a perfect medium and it's all about discovery! Plus, it's free therapy!
Complete the sentence: “Being in touch with your emotions can be…
... very, very overwhelming. It means letting go of holding on and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. That's bloody terrifying but do it anyway! It's the only way to live your best possible life!
The Effect runs from 25 February to 13 Mar at Victoria Theatre. Tickets from $35 to $65 are available at Sistic.