Arts Garage’s “Sex with Strangers” takes the whole romantic comedy genre, shakes the dust off of it, beats some sense into it and then displays it, beautifully, on the stage at the performing arts space in downtown Delray Beach.
Actually, calling Laura Eason’s play a rom-com is not entirely accurate. It’s probably more a contemporary romantic drama with frequent witty-to-downright-funny observations on ambition, lust, sexism and artistic validation in a digital age. But that doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? And “Sex with Strangers” is profoundly entertaining, with that Aaron Sorkin-esque brand of fast and witty dialogue – except Eason’s script doesn’t feel like it has that undercurrent of perfected posing and preening.
It starts off with “Who are you?” That’s what Olivia asks of Ethan, a stranger who has shown up, unnanounced, at a bed and breakfast in rural Michigan. On some level the play spends the rest of its two hours, with a 15-minute intermission, wrestling with that question.
They speak two different languages when it comes to writing, the relationship resembles one of those tik tak drums, with two balls whirling around each other but in opposite orbits. So it’s just a matter of a few verbal thrusts and parries before they fall into bed, repeatedly, each time signaled by a rush of flinging clothes and grinding hips just before the stage goes dark … coitus blackout-us.
“Sex with Strangers” runs through Nov. 15 at Arts Garage, 180 N.E. First St., in Delray Beach. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees Sundays (and Saturday, Nov. 14). Tickets cost $30-$45. To order, call 561-450-6357 or go to ArtsGarage.org.