Saturday February 24th 2018

“Sex With Strangers”

Our world has changed a great deal. There are many who feel that the world of the “Internet” has been a cause of many changes. In Laura Eason’s play, “Sex With Strangers”, we learn a great deal about how “social media” has effected and perhaps even infected our world today. The story is about two authors/writers who meet in a Michigan cabin over a mysterious “get-away-weekend”.  Olivia ( a superb character study by Nina O’Keefe) is an aging author, who as she seems to think, is at the tail end of her career. She is at her friends cabin/retreat working on her next novel, when Ethan ( deftly handled by Rich Holton) appears. Was he supposed to meet their mutual friend there, or was this a plot to have these two meet?

Ethan is also a writer. He does a blog on the Internet with his sex-fueled blog “Sex With Strangers”. His readership is high and his knowledge of the Internet and how social media can boost book sales is wonderful. While they seem to be far different from each other, there is an old saying that “opposites attract”, and the two of them instantly feel the chemistry in the cabin. The rest of the first act is Ethan convincing Olivia to let him take a look at her next book and to assist her in reaching a wider audience through the digital world.

Act Two takes lace in her apartment in Chicago, with Ethan making many visits to see his accomplishments on her behalf and of course a little “nookie”. Easton’s play deals with the power of the Internet and social media over the world of today. There is even a line or two in the play about empty bookshelves as there will be no printed books or photos with everything being on the computers and in the “cloud”. I thought about our home and all the photos of our kids and grandkids lining shelves as well as actual books on night stands and on a book shelf. Will all this disappear? Could all of this vanish from our lives and the lives of our heirs? Easton’s theme says that they might not make it! I hope she is in error!

Directed by Scott Westerman, this two person play is solidly done and in the intimate space of Citadel Theatre, maybe even more tense and intimate than the original Steppenwolf production(s) of 2009 and 2011. The set (Sotirios Livaditas) is multi- functional, but I for one would have liked a wall hanging of some type to differentiate where we were. A rustic photo in the Michigan homes and perhaps a skyline of Chicago in the second apartment. Paul Kim’s costumes were very functional, but I would have liked to see Olivia with a different shirt somewhere along the line. That pink tank top bothered me. I am sure she could afford more than one tank!

Andrew Ashley Hatcher did a great job of prop assembly finding just the right items to make the show real and Bob Boxer’s sound was clear. Eric Watkins lighting had some parts that many audience members found confusing. There were times that the lights stopped and then started, appearing to be a sign that there was a time difference, but it was not as clear as it might have been. A lot of what this play is about is “connection”. Connecting to the public through sales of books ( online), through blog readers/followers, and the connection between the two characters that Eason has created. Will the “digital world” take over our world and will we all become totally reliant on the computer and our cell phones? These are questions that Eason tackles including followers vs friends, connection vs connectivity, social media vs actual friends- a lot is covered in two hours ( one intermission) and much to think about!

“Sex With Strangers” will continue thru March 4th with performances as follows:

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Sundays  3 p.m.

Tickets range from $37.50- $40 with discounts for Seniors and students and they can be purchased by calling 847-735-8554 or visiting www.CitadelTheatre.org

The theater is located at 300 S. Waukegan Road ( just South of Route 60) in Lake Forest with loads of free parking.

To see what others are saying, visit  www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Sex With Strangers”.

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