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Sex with Strangers: When Paper is Better than Digital

Sex with Strangers. When Paper is Better than Digital

By Alejandra Enciso

Every time in a TV show, radio show, podcast, -you name it- where there’s talk about books or publishing, I am happy. In these social media crazed days, where everyone relies on a phone screen for information, it is very refreshing to hear people talking about the good old things like books (not the digital ones).

That is the case with the San Diego REP’s current play, Sex with Strangers. Written by Laura Eason who is also on the writing team of the Netflix show, House of Cards. Sex with Strangers, is directed by San Diego Critics Circle Director of the Year, Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.

We see a cabin in the mountains, where Olivia (played by Lisel Gorell-Getz) is proofing something while enjoying a glass of wine. Immediately, Brian Redfern’s scenic design stands out contoured by Sherrice Mojgani’s lighting design. This two-story cabin with a fireplace, a sitting area, and a workspace, is just perfect. In the middle of Olivia’s proofing, there is a frantic knock on the door. It is Ethan (Connor Sullivan) a twenty-something, cute, successful author that -apparently- also rented the cabin for the same dates Olivia did. The expected reaction from Olivia takes place, and she asks him to leave. It is snowed in so, Ethan in his sarcastic yet charming way, slips right on in saying that he is also a very big fan of Olivia – a one-book-author who’s release had very mixed reviews. It’s been hard for her and now, she is trying to get back in the game and release a new book. Ethan already has two best-sellers under his wing. Both realize they know of each other and want what the other has. Ethan is infatuated with Olivia’s writing, while she wants to become a recognized author. Things heat up in the cabin for three days and a relationship develops.

Once on home turf, there is a total 180-degree shift with the set design showing now, Olivia’s apartment. Ethan decides to reboot Olivia’s career to which she is skeptical but agrees. Things go up fast and there’s a betrayal on the way. Here is where the magic of theatre and storytelling comes in, leaving it open for interpretation. Did they really love each other? Was Olivia being 100% honest?

As the audience watches to these two authors engaging in a relationship, Delicia’s directorial hand communicates the story with on-point movements around the stage. Several wardrobe changes happen along the course, that help guide along the passing of the days in the play while looking clean and totally stylish. Another honorable mention for Costume Designer Anastasia Pautova.

As Olivia describes her love of paper, there is a transition between hardcopy/paperback editions and Ebooks that is very interesting and relatable.

Sex with strangers is a very well written and interesting work that shows us a lot of contemporary and relatable topics. It is a great play to enjoy with a significant other or friends. The show is playing now at the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Lyceum Stage located in Horton Plaza until March 19th. Tickets start at $40 dollars and can be purchased in person, by phone calling 619-544-1000 and online at www.sdrep.org. There are student tickets available at $20 dollars.

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