What else would I be doing on a wet winter night in February but heading out to experience “Sex With Strangers” at The Colonial Players in Annapolis? As you can imagine this show contains adult themes with very strong language as it attempts to shock in the depiction of a young millennial and his sexual exploits.
This was my first visit to see a show at The Colonial Players and it really is the perfect location to watch theatre in the round. The stage is set in the center of the room giving the audience a great view of the action, and this play has some action that you don’t want to miss. I wanted this play, written by Laura Eason, to wow me, sadly it was predictable. Perhaps I am too close in age to millennials (I wish) but it didn’t shock me, I just left thinking – yes that’s what I expected.
There is sex, seduction and self-deprecation all in 360°.
Directed by Dave Carter, the mood, sexual excitement and frustration at times are captured perfectly on stage by Carter. There were a few longer than expected pauses between scenes where the actors were changing clothes. I imagine this will tighten up as the run progresses.
The lead male character Ethan is played by Dylan Roche. He is an overconfident blogger turned overnight best-selling author because of his sexual endeavors all captured in a blog. In his own words, he is a “certifiable a**hole.” After writing a blog about hooking up with more than 52 women in a year, Ethan turns his conquests into a series of books and a movie and yes it made to the best seller list – but which one?
After meeting an older woman Olivia, played by Elizabeth Hester, at a bed and breakfast in Michigan, Ethan proceeds to take their at first strained meeting into a sexual encounter and relationship. What Ethan gives in confidence to Olivia he soon takes away when her success as an author threatens to override his.
Edd Miller does a great job with the set design from the first set at the Bed and Breakfast and later at Olivia’s apartment. The Bed and Breakfast is a simple living room set up with doors that lead off to various rooms, including the bedroom and bathroom. Not to give too much away but we all know that person who leaves the door ajar when they pee!
Alex Brady was thoughtful in the lighting plan, one note I made was that the lighting at times is too bright to be able to appreciate the detail of the glow of the fire. The roaring fire that added to the set as the storm outside ramped up perfectly timed by Sarah Wade with her sound design.
Roche plays the young ego manic well struggling to cope for a few days without the internet and just delivering uncouth lines and a self-deprecating attitude to his life as a blogger. Roche, however, seems to struggle to change his emotions. Even in the sexual and somewhat tender moments with Hester, his stage character doesn’t change hugely, he lacks emotion, but he does have great abs!
Kudos to both these actors in their constant pacing dialogue, however at times Roche’s timing is off, cutting off Hester’s lines and losing humor through the timing. In general, it’s a somewhat interesting plot, there is sex, seduction and self-deprecation all in 360°.
Hester plays a sophisticated teacher who once wrote a not so successful book and is now holding on to her new novel like a newborn child. Roche helps give her the confidence she needs to publish her new novel but it is not the happy ending you may want to see or is it? I would rather not say. Throughout the play, there are lots of humorous lines that were appreciated by the varied ages in the audience.
While there is a snobbery that exists between bloggers and writers it seems Hester, in her sexual glow, overlooked the differences between her and Roche, but when the honeymoon phase is over the differences surface. Hester plays her character very well staying true to herself throughout – showing at times her vulnerability, being the older woman in a world where Roche admits he has not treated women well.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and thirty minutes including one intermission.
Advisory: This production contains adult themes and is not suitable for children.
“Sex With Strangers” runs through March 18, 2018, at The Colonial Players. For more information or to purchase tickets click here.