Can a pharmacology breakthrough save the relationship in Empathitrax?

-Brenda Hillegas
photo by Mark Garvin

Though the ending of Ana Nogueria’s Empathitrax could be positive, or negative, depending how you view it- the story itself explores what happens when society jumps on board with the latest miracle drug. A long-term couple, known only has “Him” and “Her” (Makoto Hirano and Claire Inie-Richards, respectively), turn to a pill in order to hopefully save their relationship. They come to trust the crutch of Empathitrax, a pill that will allow them to feel what the other is feeling emotionally and avoid a more natural way of coping with their desires and needs.

But when does the pill popping go too far? At what point do they realize that certain boundaries aren’t meant to be crossed. What are the consequences of the side effects? This fast-paced, 90 minute show takes us through their strained relationship, their problems as a couple and as individuals. Inie-Richards and Hirano immediately drag us into this sci-fi / dark comedy as we ride the highs and lows of this new drug with them. It’s intense, well-written, and very moving. The cast also includes Matteo Scammell in a dual role as a pharmaceutical sales rep and friend of the couple.

You’ll leave the theatre thinking about the people you love, what you want them to feel and what boundaries you may need to set in your own relationship. Needless to say, this is another must-see from Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Empathitrax is Nogueria’s Philadelphia debut, though she is an East Falls native. Her play Which Way to the Stage opened to critical acclaim Off-Broadway. As an actress, she has appeared on The CW’sThe Vampire Diaries.” Empathitrax runs through March 5th at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 South Broad Street). Tickets are available at, by calling 215-985-0420, or by visiting the Box Office.

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