‘Sex With Strangers’ plays at Q44 Theatre

On a stormy night, a popular young blogger gatecrashes the life of mature age author Olivia, at a rural Michigan B&B. On the premise that he visits to convert his million-selling e-book, Sex With Strangers, into a screenplay, it seems this might not be the only thing he is after in his visit to the cottage. So begins an exciting telling of famed 2011 American play ‘Sex With Strangers’, written by House of Cards writer Laura Eason.

A play about contemporary dating mores, the ruthlessness of publishing, and the flaws of the human ego, it’s the ultimate in up-close-and-personal devilry. Both characters fall victim to their vanity and desire, courting their own eventual undoing. A famed meditation on present day human life, we see a mix of internet dating, casual hook ups, and the politics of intimacy examined. This charged production excites, showing the very lives we live mirrored on stage, including texting and time without wifi!

Primal drives, from Prometheus to Superman, make us all dance with the devil. Love, desire, need, greed, avarice, and vanity are some of the deadly sins stripped bare by the tight dialogue.  An older woman is flattered by the attentions of a young male. She, a once- famous writer, is courted by an upstart crow, and invited by him into the world of modern publishing. From start ups to blogging, e-publishing to celebrity culture, Ethan updates her on modern authorship, but there is more at stake here than mere literature. He, a young male ingénue, seeks the stamp of approval of a true novelist, hoping some of her expertise will rub off on him. Driven by his game to seduce her, he also has other things in mind. However, plans don’t always work out the way we script them.

This meeting of opposites, and the sexual and professional dance they engage in sees 2 hours pass quickly. The two actors flesh out their roles with high energy. Their tight dance-off, between the sheets and on the page, engrosses. The actors’ skill with delivery, and the theatrical tension they create heats up the stakes. We see Olivia and Ethan spiral within their own desires as the self-interested parties they eventually prove. And as with all universal parables, reversals eventuate.

This lively production has an innovative set, allowing the audience to sit close, as if gazing in from  a window sill. Are these 21 Century darlings monsters or victims of the world they live in?  What we see fascinates and repels, as do many of the things of modern life.

– Sarah
Sarah W. is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On-the-street or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope!

The Season of this two-hour show (with interval) runs at Q44 Theatre, Richmond, August 17-September 3rd, Wednesday – Sunday at 7:30pm. Book here. This venue is not wheelchair accessible.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Q44 Theatre.
Photo credit: Q44 Theatre.