The temperatures might still be cool outside. But at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse, the stage will heat up the rest of this week with the play “Sex with Strangers.” The Playhouse’s current offering centers around the wild and somewhat unsupervised world of ePublishing. This very contemporary topic gives life to a good chemistry between the two actors who generate a heat all their own as they explore the effects ePublishing has on their career and their lives.
“Sex with Strangers” was written by Laura Eason who is the author of more than 20 full-length plays. She also is a writer on the Netflix hit series “House of Cards.” Since the play is about ePublishing, it was interesting to read the following statement from Ms. Eason in the program booklet: “I am incredibly comfortable putting my ideas out into the world as expressed through the fictional characters I create in my plays that I develop over months and years, but dashing something off as myself is always less comfortable for me. I read plenty of blogs and often have responses, but I never post or comment on anything. There is something about this mode of communication I am uneasy with.”
Ms. Eason’s statement is a bit of a description of the play’s main female character, Olivia. Olivia is of the age where traditional writing and standard publishing was the norm. She published one book, got some good reviews, now appears to be frozen in moving forward to the next stage of her writing career. In the play, she is staying at a bed and breakfast in rural Michigan known to be a refuge for writers trying to get some good work done. In the midst of a heavy snowstorm, a younger man, Ethan, comes into the lodge and finds Olivia is still up seated in front of the fire place. He, too, is a writer but a totally different one from Olivia. He has made his way in the world of publishing electronically first through a rather risqué style of blogging and then by ePublishing a best seller that further described his exploits mentioned in his blog. Easton comments on this also: “. . . I think we are living in a very interesting moment. Those in their mid-20’s, as Ethan is, have lived most of their lives online, sharing much of what they do, think, and feel.”
Although Olivia and Ethan are from different literary worlds, it turns out that Ethan knows exactly who she is. It seems that he has read her work and was entranced with it. Olivia is stunned by the revelation but cannot say the same for Ethan’s work. And by coincidence, the internet is down because of the snow storm so she cannot read his work. However, she does agree to release her new book under a new app Ethan is launching. All seems like it will go well until right after he leaves and she goes online to read about her new lover and publisher. She is quite taken back by what she sees. Her questions about him as a person begin to surface and lead to a most interesting journey of the mind and soul.
There are many issues addressed in this play that are current, such as ePublishing but there are also issues such as trust in a relationship and accepting someone for who they really are that become important to the plot. The action moves at a good pace and the romance between Olivia and Ethan becomes a very interesting aspect of what the play is about. Olivia, played by JoAnna Rhinehart, and Ethan, played by Kyle Coffman are fascinating to watch in this show. Their energy level makes the whole situation very believable. They ignite a definite chemical heat between them and there are some moments where the action is quite smoldering. For anyone who enjoys romances between older women/younger men, well this one won’t disappoint. However, be prepared for an unusual ending for this type of pairing. It might be one that you won’t expect to see.
For tickets and information, contact the George Street Playhouse Box Office at 732-246-7717 or visit their website at www.GSPoline.org. The George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. The show will run through March 27, 2016.
Note: The play is recommended for mature audiences only due to adult themes and nudity.