“Sex With Strangers” – Stray Cat Theatre/Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ September 28, 2015


Stray Cat Theatre/Arizona Theatre Company, Stage West, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

In a dashingly funny co-production between Stray Cat Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company they stage the adult farce, “Sex With Strangers,” with droll sparkle.

The Laura Eason off-Broadway hit is filled with witty comedic dialogue as it explores a one-time sexual encounter between a pair of authors as they sprinkle today’s sexual mores into their very different lives and novels.  Olivia is looking for a loose commitment while Ethan is interested in a quick fling without lasting consequences.  They both use each other to get what they want as they spend the play cleverly dancing around the sexual ramifications of their affair.

“Sex With Strangers” is not profound or deep but when it’s delivered by a pair of engaging performers they humorously milk every amusing nuance out of the script.  They add further shenanigans with the physical game the pair dance throughout the play as they transform “Sex With Strangers” into an amusing delight.

Olivia is a by-the-rule prude who’s put her heart and soul into a novel based on her life.  It’s hard for her to be open about her sheltered existence.  Ethan is the exact opposite.  He has no secrets and wants Olivia to know everything about him.  They meet at a rural Michigan bed-and-breakfast where she’s finishing her book as Ethan arrives from busy Chicago to escape his multi-faceted life so he can also finish his book.

Stray Cat Theatre Artistic Director Ron May stages the play with quick paced lunacy that works well.  May has two expert performers with superb comic timing who add mischievous malarkey to the situation.

Heather Lee Harper is a frazzled Olivia who worries about everything.  She needs to relax and let life happen rather than anticipating and planning for every occurrence.  Tyler Eglen’s Ethan is a swinger who takes advantage of every opportunity to get what he wants.  The pair is very different and, when we initially meet them, it is hard to ever conceive them getting together.

“Sex With Strangers” is a funny play about contemporary relationships and what causes people to link up.  It is sharply performed by an excellent cast.  It continues through October 11 at the Herberger Theater Center.  For tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order tickets online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: B

While in Prague this summer, I saw the elaborate Prague Opera production of the rarely performed “Nabucco” by Verdi.  The production was blessed with a fine sounding chorus but the over-the-hill leads did not do justice to the wonderful score.  I also saw Prague’s famous “Black Light Theatre” that while interesting technically had a bland story.