Sex With Strangers refreshing turn at computer-fed battle of the sexes

Michael Shenefelt and Megan Hayes.

Sex With Strangers by Laura Eason at Horizon Theatre is a smart wrangle through failure, success and sizzling ambition. Olivia (Megan Hayes) is a “poor and obscure” literary writer. Ethan (Michael Shenefelt) is a “popular and rich” blogger turned author. They meet, collide, and the play plunges into its real concern: connection and commitment in an age when you can have sex with strangers within minutes (“We did what we did last night, but you won’t let me read your book?”).

Shenefelt and Hayes are lovely together. Shenefelt’s Ethan oozes charisma as he effortlessly delivers sleazy lines with roguish charm and boyish insouciance. Hayes’ performance is equally vibrant. She plays Eason’s refreshingly sexy older woman with aplomb and touching vulnerability as Olivia seeks Ethan’s true nature: Nice guy or womanizing blogger?

The Horizon Theatre’s snug dimensions lends an intimacy to the frequent sexy scenes where Sex With Strangers becomes an inquiry into voyeurism. Under Jeff Adler’s smooth direction; the actors’ prowl across tight spaces that compliment their verbal sparring. The soundtrack, comprising largely of email pings and cell phone ringers, is a fitting accompaniment to the effects of technology on art and relationships.

The end is a complete surprise and whether you cheer or shake your fist will depend on whether you like your tales left open or closed. Sex With Strangers is a “must watch” for anyone who has ever just wanted some respect. 

Published in ArtsATL 2016