Sex with Strangers – Review by Irene Backalenick

It’s a lively scene at the Westport Country Playhouse, where “Sex With Strangers” now holds forth. Katherine M. Carter’s smooth direction never lets up, keeping viewers absorbed from beginning to end.

Writer-producer Laura Eason offers a wry comment on the world in which we live today—the digital age. Her story wraps around two characters (Ethan and Olivia) who meet by chance (a favorite theme for the stage). It’s at a friend’s lonely retreat, ideal for serious working artists.

But this meet-by-chance story takes a modern turn. As to be expected, the sex comes first, and then the difficulties of a relationship follow. (How different from our earlier generations, when long courtships ended in marriage, and, finally, sex.)

Here we have two impassioned writers/would-be-writers. Their true passions lie not in the sex, which is simply normal animal behavior, if you will, but in their strivings for artistic achievement. They long to write, to create, to be recognized, to be appreciated. Battles over agents, publication (on-line or in print?) offer the substance of the plot.

Writers in the audience will find this exploration intriguing, and will certainly relate. But others may not…..though the relentless pace of “Sex With Strangers,” as they play out their drama, may be enough. Ethan and Olivia strip their clothes in a kind of lovely ballet, never missing a beat. Played by Chris Ghaffari and Jessica Love, their chemistry is dynamic, believable. Love (what an appropriate name) is superb with every gesture, every line. Ghaffari is good, too, but his lines (alas) do not come across clearly, so much is lost. Yet the body language of each is right on.

Praise, too, goes to Edward T. Morris’s contemporary, poetic stage set, as to all the designers.

Here’s a show which entertains, delights, and provides considerable food for thought. “Sex With Strangers” runs through October 14.

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