San Diego Repertory Theatre presents Sex with Strangers

by Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

The current show running at the Lyceum Space is about the convergence of digital media and how we have allowed it to intrude into our daily activities.  Produced by the San Diego Repertory Theatre, it is one of the top 10 plays produced around the world in the past 18 months.  With over 30 productions worldwide, contemporary author Laura Eason has written a resounding hit.

Sex with Strangers, widely recognized for its modernity, has been performed from Australia to Buenos Aries, crisscrossing from Los Angeles to New York (where it was produced by David Schwimmer, Ross of Friends) on to Cincinnati, Chicago and this winter it will open in London.

Multi-talented, Eason is a cowriter for the Netflix series, House of Cards, about political intrigue in Washington D.C, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  Eason has also completed a project for Sarah Jessica Parker’s production company Pretty Matches.

A round-table discussion pertaining to the “future of the written word” preceded the opening night performance.  Sam’s Salon, named for and hosted by the SD Rep’s Artistic Director, Sam Woodhouse, included Jessica Pressman, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at SDSU, Markel Tumlin, Research Services Librarian for English and American Literature at SDSU, and Nik Honeysett, CEO of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative.

The conversation was about the impact of digital media on our lives and how it has changed the printed word.  Questions discussed: Can digital and print work together? Is one more important?  What will happen to our libraries? How will digital media reduce the value of old world volumes?  What has happened to cursive writing by this generation? How will the digital age impact our museums and how they are viewed?  These were thought provoking questions.  Some without clear cut answers.

The two-character play begins on a snowy night in rural Michigan at a B & B.    Olivia (Lisel Gorell-Getz) is proof-reading her second book when a late arriving guest intrudes on her peace and quiet. Ethan, (Connor Sullivan) complaining of bad directions and hunger insists he is a paid guest and deserves to the right to stay regardless of the late hour.

Provoked by the absurdity of not being within cell phone range and coupled by the  internet being down,  Ethan fills the space with his annoyed presence.  The conflict exacerbates when as he imposes on Olivia’s bottle of wine.

Exuding masculinity and a domineering male presence, Connor Sullivan is the antithesis to Lisel Gorell-Getz’s, Olivia.  Olivia is timid, insecure about her writing, and fearful of further rejection. On the other hand,  Ethan is emboldened by his success as an online blogger/author and challenges her not to surrender to her doubts.

A modern-day romance, Sex with Strangers contains adult language and mature content.

Playing through March 19 at the Lyceum Stage at 79 Horton Plaza. Tickets are available online at www.SDREP.org or at the box office 619.544.1000.

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