by Lenore LaNova
To kick off the 2015/2016 season the prestigious Arizona Theatre Company joined forces with the provocative Stray Cat Theatre to bring Sex with Strangers to life. The play, which opened last weekend at the Herberger, was a delightfully witty romp through love and literature.
I found the play to be much more thoughtful than I initially expected given the raunchy title. Sex with Strangers addresses contemporary questions of identity and, more specifically, public versus private personas in the digital age. Of course, there’s a lot more funny, sexy time in these two acts than that previous statement suggests.
As a writer (and aspiring novelist) watching the play made me a little too self-conscious at moments. I had to forcibly ignore the sideways glances from my partner when the dialogue hit a little too close to home. Playwright Laura Eason manages to isolate and identify many of the specific anxieties that plague artists with painful nuance.
Thankfully, there were plenty of comedic moments to assuage any awkward embarrassment or painful revelations. Director Ron May did a superb job of maintaining this delicate balance in his rendering of Eason’s work.
Heather Lee Harper and Tyler Eglen take the lead (and only) roles in the play. Sex with Strangers revolves around a relationship that develops between two strangers who find themselves stranded in a cabin on a snowy night. Harper and Eglen navigate the tension of newly emerging love between two people who really don’t know that much about each other with all the playfulness and awkwardness one might expect.
The moments of anguish and aggression that arise in this modern love story find authentic expression through Harper and Eglen. I only found myself aware that I was watching a play, and not somehow magically witnessing an exchange between strangers, occurred when the characters took a passionate turn. But, hey, it was opening night and the pair was about to spend some serious time in their skivvies in front of a full house.
Sex with Strangers should be added to the schedule of any performing arts aficionado. It will run through October 11th in Phoenix. For all our Tucson readers, you can expect Sex with Strangers this coming February.
And, as this was the opening of the season, the bar has been set high for both the Arizona Theatre Company and Stray Cat Theatre. I expect wonderful things to follow. It looks like both companies have some interesting works to bring to Valley stages.
The Arizona Theatre Company will be giving life to two Pulitzer Prize winning plays in addition to Of Mice and Men, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin and several others. I, for one, am looking forward to The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord. a new comedy written by Scott Carter.
As for Stray Cat Theatre, it looks like the 2015-2016 season will be as lively as ever with Green Day’s American Idiot, Stupid Fucking Bird, and Heathers: The Musical. Yes, people, you heard me. Heathers: The Musical.
For more information, please check out the following links:
For show dates and tickets to Sex with Strangers, head here.