Total Rating: 
April 13, 2017
April 30, 2017
New York
Geva Theater presenting Kitchen Theater Co.
Theater Type: 
Geva Theater - Fielding Studio
Theater Address: 
75 Woodbury Boulevard
Laura Eason
Rachel Lambert

Sex with Strangers has been making the rounds. Developed through Steppenwolf Theater Company’s New Play Initiative, its world premiere was at Steppenwolf in Chicago, and its New York premiere was at Second Stage Theater New York in 2014. Geva’s production was originally staged at Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY March 12-April 2, 2017.

It’s a sexy, pleasant, entertaining play with pretentions that Laura Eason’s dialogue doesn’t quite live up to. Rachel Lampert’s fluid direction seems more concerned with effects than realistic behavior, but she moves the play briskly and entertainingly.

LeeAnne Hutchinson is a quietly commanding, experienced actress who makes her character, Olivia, physically attractive and entertaining while maintaining a reserve of refinement even with the playwright’s often vulgar material. Ethan, her partner in several intense but partly hidden sex scenes is dynamic Darian Dauchan, a lithe young actor with musical, dance, and solo performance background, whose comic self-exhibition is surprisingly appealing.

Olivia is living alone finishing her second book, which she shows to no one. Her first book initially received rave notices from a few but eventually was found to be too intellectual and did not sell. Ethan has read it and comes to see her because he thinks her book a masterpiece and wants to help her sell it to more readers. Also he has heard about her new book and is dying to read it. But we learn that Ethan is a young, rich writer who has sold enough copies of his book called “Sex with Strangers” to top the best-seller list. He boosts his popularity by book-selling tours which apparently include sexual orgies.

So does he really enjoy and need those orgies? I know that you want to know. Surprisingly, Olivia enjoys having sex with him. Repeatedly. By Act two, Olivia has learned to write sexy stuff and is making a lot of money and planning to marry Ethan. But he still has to do those vulgar group gropes.

And she may be planning to sell out. At the end, they split but might get back together, and we’re not too certain how much genius each wants to display or how much vulgarity. And I no longer cared. I just couldn’t lose the nagging feeling that both were going to say, “I’m certainly no genius, but I play one in “Sex With Strangers.”

Darian Dauchan, LeeAnne Hutchison
Set: David Arsenault. Costumes: Lisa Boquist. Lighting: Tyler M. Perry. Music/Sound: Serget Levitskiy
Herbert M. Simpson
Date Reviewed: 
April 2017