Sex With Strangers
"Sex with Strangers," by Laura Eason would be just another opposites-attract relationship drama if it were not for its realism. The dialogue and flow to the play is very natural.
This makes the lead characters Olivia (Diana Osborn) and Ethan (David Kurtz) interesting, and well-timed humor makes a worn 'strangers meet and fall in love' plot compelling, as does the direction of Sarah O'Connell.
The realism does not stop with the play itself. Osborn and Kurtz commit to their roles in a way that draws in the audience. They look good together. They act extraordinarily well together. It is natural. It is comfortable. Their chemistry is sizzling. These are two very talented actors no one should miss seeing.
"Who are you?" Olivia asks as she sees the stranger approaching the Bed and Breakfast she has chosen for a respite from teaching. The stranger is Ethan Strange. At least, that is his pen name. He is a twenty-something, two-time best-selling writer of books he despises. He drove from Chicago to Michigan to finish the long overdue screenplay for his first book. Ethan is a mix of rude and charming.
Olivia is comfortable holed up at the B&B, editing with a glass of wine by the fire. Ethan is bored and impatient when she informs him the Wi-Fi is down. He is modern information age. She is still using Windows 98.
When she doesn't recognize his works he whines, "If you had the Internet, you could look it up." To make matters worse there is no television either. What is a poor, media-addicted, famous young author to do?
Ethan is a self-described jerk. Olivia is quick to agree. Olivia is sensitive and fears exposure. She believes her time for success as a novelist has come and gone. "If something was going to happen it would have already."
Ethan is at the top of his career, but he is disillusioned. Olivia does little to assuage these feelings asking if his work is porn. Despite all their differences, the two decide to give a relationship a go.
After some wine and charming conversation, Ethan suggests there is something they can do -- have sex. Ethan seduces her with effusive praise for her writing. She succumbs to his charms. The two have sex, literally fulfilling Ethan's memoir, "Sex with Strangers," in more ways than one.
Afterward, Olivia pushes Ethan away saying, "I don't like to reminisce about sex," to which Ethan reminds her that is literally almost all he does. Even so, Olivia cannot resist her attraction to Ethan and she agrees to give a committed relationship a try. However, she is wary saying, "You are a stranger."
It doesn't take long for the first conflict to arise. While Olivia is sleeping Ethan reads her latest book. She feels violated and demands he leave. However, his obsession with her writing reels her back in. The relationship is rocky. Throughout the both question each other's motives.
Initially, Olivia is jealous of Ethan's success. She pans it, asking if his book is porn. Meanwhile, he is enamored with her writing. He calls it genius and insists she deserves so much more.
It seems Black Box productions are similar to the theater space, tucked away inside the bowels of the Las Vegas Little Theater. However, they have been home to many very fine productions. I am always astounded by the set construction (Chris Davies), and the use of space, as well as the quality of the performers.
"Sex with Strangers" runs through February 19,at the Las Vegas Little Theatre-Black Box, 3920 Schiff Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89103. For information or tickets, call 702-362-7996 or visit www.LVLT.org.