Filled with engaging performances and snappy dialogue, Sex With Strangers is an entertaining and well thought out dramedy.
Sex with Strangers
By Laura Eason
Directed by Natalie Avital
Venue: Stephanie Feury Theatre
General Admission: $12.00
Run Time: 2Hrs
Tickets can be purchased at at http://hff19.org/5932
Playwrite/Producer Laura Eason(House of Cards) hit drama Sex with Strangers premiered initially in 2011 at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater, after successful runs, off-Broadway this intellectually stimulating production returns to the west coast for the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival.
The play chronicles the relationship both professional and romantic between Olivia(Melissa Center). A talented but burnt-out author in her late thirties who stopped writing for anyone but herself after her first novel was received with poor reviews. Also, Ethan(Jake Ferree), a twenty-something-year-old New York Times bestselling author and self-described "asshole" who writes under the name "Ethan Strange" whose success has come from writing about his debauchery playboy lifestyle in his book "Sex with Strangers" accounts his series of sexual hookups which are the very personification of Fratire.
The majority of the play takes place in cold Michigan in a remote cabin used by writers to help them work in an area of respite. Ethan seeks out Olivia, who happens to be his greatest idol; he has read her previous novel cover to cover and can quote it verbatim to her. He believes the remote location and Oliva might be the impetus he needs to complete his next project.
Ethan's goal is to push Olivia to publicize her writings to the public once again, although initially, we are unsure of if his motives are entirely altruistic. Olivia's goal is to be a successful writer to be able to quit her teaching job and devote herself to writing full-time. She is someone who is terribly unsure of herself and feels that is writing is excellent but is uncertain if others feel the same. Ethan provides an immediate sense of validation and security for her.
As their relationship deepens, they both find themselves inching closer to getting what they want, but both must face the dark side of ambition and the realization that they might not know each other, as well as they think.
Center and Ferree' performances are terrific, they share such electric chemistry you can't help but root for them to succeed. Rarely do you see such actors have such a tangible relationship on stage
Centers portrayal of Oliva who begins as a meek writer cast with shadow self-doubt is so very relatable, anyone who has struggled with self-confidence and finding success later in life can certainly relate.
Ferree is a perfect foil as Ethan, braggadocios, loud, and so self sure of himself. It is engrossing to watch his layered performance as you see Ethan put on the mask of Ethan Strange, and it is a perfect example of someone who can lose themselves within their narrative.
The play itself starts a little slow, and it can take a moment to wind up, its a full two-hour performance with a five-minute intermission, this might be a bit long for the faced past nature of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. That being said after the end of Act I, this play begins to fire on all cylinders, and you can't help but be taken along for the ride.
Overall, the writing, presentation, and performances in "Sex with Strangers" will hold you so firmly that the inconclusive ending in no way ruins the experience that comes before it, I prefer the open nature ending of the show as like all good books allow you to craft your ending.
I highly recommend checking this one out while you have the opportunity.
Hollywood Fringe 2019
Mike is checking out the following shows.