It’s an age-old question: how well do you know a person? In today’s sea of technology, social media and fame, how can a person even be trusted to be who they are? Laura Eason, a writer from the hit series “House of Cards,” wrote the insightful comedy “Sex With Strangers” now playing at The Waterfront Playhouse. Like the show, this play is fast-paced, filled with contemporary conversations and thoughtful questions about love in the time of technology. Delving into relationships like a butcher exposing the heart of the beast, “Sex with Strangers” leaves audiences raw and open, looking at love.
Ethan and Olivia surprisingly meet the old fashion way, in person. Actor Tim Torre is a tour de force as Ethan, a twenty-something millennial full of vanity and indiscretion. He seeks out his idol, novelist Olivia a (late 30-something) played by a captivating Melanie Keller. Holed up in a remote cabin during a snowstorm without the internet, the opportunity unfolds to get to know each other. Initially, they appear polar opposite and a generation different, although both are writers. Ethan is the technology-addicted sensationalist who claimed internet stardom with a blog about “Sex with Strangers.” Ethan admits “The tasteless youth of the world put me on the best seller list” and despairs, “If I can’t go online, people will think I am dead.”
While he capitalizes on the selfie culture, Olivia is the epitome of the traditional novelist. She like the smells old books, publishing houses versus eBooks and writes for herself, not others. The couple begins the push and pull of an unlikely but predictable romance. Olivia becomes the yin to Ethan’s yang, bringing out the best but also the worst in their vanities; they are both writers after all.
“Isn’t there anything you want to keep private?” says Olivia. “I guess not,” responds Ethan. Olivia recoils at seeing “anonymous strangers saying horrible, misspelled things about my work.” Ethan cajoles Olivia to put her work back out there, which also invites the real world into their relationship and the questions abound. Can their egos and hearts handle an audience? How far will they go to get what they want and stay in relationship? And ultimately, how well do they know each other?
“Sex with Strangers” is undoubtedly a comedy, full of quick one-liners and contemporary sarcasm. It’s not above making fun of generational power struggles and romantic fallacies; anyone can relate who has ever delved in love during the time of tech.