The Sugar Syndrome – Lucy Prebble


First performed by English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in London, October 16, 2003.  First produced in the US by the Williamstown Theatre Festival, July 27, 2005.

Original Cast:

Dani Carter (17)                                               Stephanie Leonidas
Jan Carter (45)                                                 Kate Duchene
Tim Saunders (38)                                           Andrew Woodall
Lewis Sampson (22)                                        Will Ash
Voices of the Internet

Director:  Marianne Elliott
Set Designer:  Jonathan Fensom
Lighting Designer:
  Chris Davey
Sound Designer:
  Ian Dickinson

Publication:  Prebbles, Lucy. The Sugar Syndrome. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Drama Library PR6116. R42 S84 2006..

Setting:  England

Language:  Contemporary with British slang.


It’s only once you reach an age when you realize why you hate your parents that you become too polite to articulate it.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedy

Plot:   A 17-year-old girl meets two strangers (a 22-year-old telemarketer and a 38-year-old convicted pedophile) online and develops relationships with them in real life.  Manages to be funny while dealing with serious issues; looks at pedophilia from the point of view of the pedophile.  Despite its subject matter, the play avoids being sensational or puerile.


Representative Monologues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p.25: Tim talks about his attraction to a little girl in his building


I just want to hear what her voice sounds like. (Smiles to himself.) She’s a little madam. At the weekend, she was sitting on the wall, with this cloth doll, she wasn’t even playing with it, she was watching her brothers. [Lines cut] So he takes the doll and he holds it over the skip like he might just drop it any second, but she just sits on the wall. Isn’t even bothered, so he’s got nothing on her. She just taught him a lesson and the doll can go hang.

p.33-34:  Lewis hasn’t been able to reach Dani for a while so he drafts an email to her, which he doesn’t send.


Dani. You absent bitch. I miss you. It’s been six days, man. I’m sounding a little bit mental, which I don’t like. I rang you again and no answer. I get the feeling you’re actively not ringing me now. What if you’re dead? [Lines cut]Will you not write just write a little? Just to keep me going? ‘Cause I just keep imagining what you could be doing and it’s sending me mental. I’m sorry but it is. I miss you. Obviously in a manly, independent, not bothered way. But I do. (He sighs.)


Representative Scenes: 

p. 13-15:  Dani finds out that Tim has been in prison and he tells her how he was subjected to aversion therapy. Part of Dani’s first line can be cut. Starts with


[Oh, well, that’s alright then.] You’ve got a nice voice. Let me guess, unemployed actor? Late-night DJ.

and ends with


(Considers.) It made me want to electrocute kids.

p. 19-21:  Dani and Lewis are hanging out at his place and Lewis is trying to get Dani to have sex with him even though she’s having her period.  Starts with


She doesn’t think anything she doesn’t say. It’s like if she’s putting something somewhere she goes, “I’ll just put that there.” Who the fuck is she talking to? Or she’s driving and she’s just, “Ooh, what’s he doing? I think we’ll park over there.” Shut up. She’s like Cassandra except her curse is to speak and have people want to beat her over the head with a hammer.

and ends with


(He squeezes her bum.) I’ll see your kiss and raise you a bum squeeze. Com on, one bum squeeze to stay in the game. (Dany squeezes his bum, play-reluctantly. Throughout, Lewis moves to be on top of her.) Oh, she’s seen it! She’s staying in. Question is, is she bluffing? (American accent.) And here we can see, Marty, with our special under-the-table cameras that Dani the “D-Man” Carter has a pair she’s been hiding. (He puts his hand up her top.) Can she go all the way? Let’s find out with the rest of the flop.

p.24-26:  Tim talks about his attraction to a little girl named Domino and his love affair with a boy named David.  Starts with


You’re going to read all those?

and ends with


Thing is with boyfriends, is eventually they’re going to want to take you out to dinner.

p.41-43:  Lewis goes to Tim’s apartment looking for Dani and threatens Tim with exposure if he does anything to Dani.  Starts with


Look mate. I know all about you and unless you want your neighbors to know and all I’d let me in.

and ends with


                I know, Lewis, you could. And I’m terrified ’cause I’ve got just so much to lose.



Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Billington, M. (2003, Oct 21). Review: Last night’s show: Theatre: The sugar syndrome: Royal court, london 3/5. The Guardian, pp. 30.

de Jongh, N. (2003, Oct 21). Depraved new world ; THEATRE. Evening Standard, pp. 46.

Macaulay, A. (2003, Oct 23). The sugar syndrome royal court, london. Financial Times, pp. 19.

Nightingale, B. (2003, Oct 21). The sugar syndrome. The Times, pp. 19.

Taylor, P. (2003, Oct 30). Theatre: Girls will be boys in a mixed-up world. The Independent, pp. 14.