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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Sex with Strangers
Signature Theatre

Also see Susan's reviews of Elmer Gantry and Fetch Clay, Make Man


Luigi Sottile and Holly Twyford
Is it possible for lovers to know too much about each other? What kind of future is there for an author who has built his reputation on stories about his drunken hookups with women he doesn't even like? These are among the issues considered in Sex with Strangers, the serious yet funny and sexy play now in the ARK Theatre at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia.

Playwright Laura Eason brings together two literary spirits at a guest cottage in rural Michigan, in the midst of a snowstorm. Olivia (Holly Twyford) is a talented writer, but few people read her first novel and she's uncertain about the future of her second. Ethan (Luigi Sottile), about 15 years younger than Olivia and unable to function without an Internet connection, became a bestselling author following the success of his (semi-fictional, he says) blog, "Sex with Strangers." Still, he insists to Olivia, he wants to abandon his party-boy persona and write something with real value.

A man, a woman, alone together as the snow piles up outside: the story practically writes itself. The plot becomes really involving, though, as lust gives way to love and both Olivia and Ethan are forced to look beneath the surface of their relationship.

Director Aaron Posner once again demonstrates his sensitivity in working with actors. Twyford is a known quantity with her four Helen Hayes Awards, but here she shimmers as a traditionalist who comes to accept that e-books have their place along with old, well-read volumes. Sottile makes the most of a role that allows him to bounce from one extreme of emotion to another.

JD Madsen's scenic design benefits from a second look: the log floor and paneled wall are actually tightly packed books. Andrew Cissna's lighting design includes an ingenious window effect—two, actually, one in each act.

Signature Theatre
Sex with Strangers
October 14th - December 7th

By Laura Eason
Olivia: Holly Twyford
Ethan: Luigi Sottile
Directed by Aaron Posner
ARK Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave.
Arlington , VA 22206
Ticket Information: 703-820-9771 or 1-800-955-5566 or www.signature-theatre.org


Photo: Theresa Wood


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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