Absolute Theatre‘s “Sex With Strangers,” which opened Thursday, is not a romantic comedy. And it’s definitely not a show for children.
But it is an outstanding production, one of the best shows seen on local stages this season.
Director Eric Decker has drawn excellent performances from KariAnn Christensen and Dominique Jones, as two people trying to reach across a divide, not only generational, but digital.
Jones is Ethan, a young man who has made his name as a blogger. The subject of his blog? Sex with strangers. He later turned the contents of the blog into a popular book that is being made into a movie. To him, you aren’t living if you’re not getting comments on social media. “I don’t care what people say, as long as they say something,” he states.
Christensen, meanwhile, is an English professor whose one novel dropped with nary a sound, and who is afraid of revealing very much about herself. “Isn’t there anything you want to keep private?” she asks Ethan.
They begin an affair, and Ethan convinces her to let him push her new book on his blog and app. Meanwhile, a traditional New York publishing house is interested in her book.
Jones is making his debut as a lead actor in a major production, and exhibits the same kind of confidence with which Ethan faces the world. Christensen is even more impressive with her ability to convey so much with, for example, an expression or a sigh. Credit goes to Decker for having his two actors so well rehearsed that there’s little indication they’re acting.
The only awkward scenes, in fact, might be those where the couple grapple in the early stages of love-making — not because we’re made uncomfortable watching, but because they seem too carefully staged.
The issues raised by this script by Laura Eason, revolving around privacy in a world where so much of life takes place in plain sight online, are as modern as today. As a result, nearly everyone will find something to think about while watching this intriguing show.
As an added bonus, recorded music played before, during and after the show is all done by local artists, and it’s a treat to hear what they’re producing.