Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Sex with Strangers
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 effecttwo, actually, one in each act.