Winston Blake & Lauren Argo in Sex with Strangers. Photo: The Liminal Playhouse.
Sex with Strangers
By Laura Eason
Directed by Tony Prince
Review by Leila Toba
Entire contents copyright © 2018 Leila Toba.
All rights reserved.
This two-person show begins in a remote getaway where a reticent but gifted writer, Olivia (Lauren Argo), has sought seclusion to write a novel. In the middle of a blizzard, a brash and youthful Sex-blogger, Ethan (Winston Blake), bursts in, disrupting Olivia’s quiet. Appearing to be complete opposites, Olivia more attracted to the older culture of literature, and Ethan wildly success in the world of social media, they find common ground as writers and quickly make one another’s acquaintance. Worlds collide as they uncover the complexities of sexuality and romance in the age of the internet, and they show one another the value of the present, hopes for the future, and the dangers of the past.
The challenge of a show like this is maintaining a constant channel of mutual energy on the stage with only two people to carry the load. Argo and Blake best this challenge with unwavering fortitude and vigor. It is particularly exquisite to be a fly on the wall in their interactions, as Argo and Blake attentively build the narrative. Their chemistry has sincere moments of hilarity, and the refreshing quality of being human. Argo connects in earnest as Olivia, in a fearless and compelling display of raw emotion. Blake may have stumbled on his lines a bit, but it took nothing away from his performance as Ethan. He comes off as very likable and natural, approaching this role with strength and humility. Towards the end of the performance, admittedly, my hands were covering my mouth and I found myself either murmuring support or dismay for each of these actors.
The set in this show is simple, but efficacious, with snow falling behind the window giving awareness to the scene. The costume pieces are realistic and changes are well thought out and timely. Even the piano music between scene changes is delightful, adding to the layers of presentiment. Director Tony Prince makes wonderful choices in casting as well as helping construct a natural interaction between his actors. There are so many subtleties in this show that really draw in the audience, such as the smell of an old book, reminding one of the days happily spent in libraries, a feeling of nostalgia. This comedic drama will leave you refreshed and reflective and is not one to be missed.
Sex with Strangers
March 29, 30, 31 and April 2, 5, 6, 7 @ 7:30 P.M.
April 8 @ 2:00 P.M.
The Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Leila Toba is an actress who has worked with various theatre companies in Louisville.