The play’s title, “Sex With Strangers,” comes from a book that Ethan (Marquis D Gibson) wrote, under a pseudonym, that tells graphically about his exploits with strange women for a year and has been on the best-seller list for 17 weeks.
Olivia (Nicole Hamilton), however, is a school teacher who has written a book apparently with a lot of self introspection. She wants to publish, but is afraid of what the reviewers will say and the book will bomb. Olivia meets Ethan at a bed and breakfast in Michigan that is very remote and has no internet or cell service. Both were there on a suggestion from a mutual friend as a great place to write. Ethan tries to help Olivia by offering to have her meet his agent. She resists and won’t even let him read the book. Olivia has not read Ethan’s book but by their dialogue Olivia is appalled about the content. He convinces her that sex with strangers isn’t unusual and eventually creates a seduction and is rewarded with a romantic stay at the inn.
Ethan finally convinces Olivia to publish. The scene shifts to Olivia’s apartment in Chicago and Ethan shows up after a promo trip, but Olivia has read his book and is appalled at its graphic and demeaning content. In the meantime, Olivia’s book has been a success and her self value has risen. Olivia and Ethan have a very intense scene where he wants to pick up where they left off and she is rejecting him. Ethan goes down to the bar and tells Olivia he loves her, but don’t judge him by the book, as it was his alter ego and he will wait for her to join him. Will she or won’t she is the final question and needs to be seen.
Nicole Hamilton and Marquis D Gibson are no strangers to The Hipp and their expertise in enveloping themselves into each character is outstanding, very believable and well cast by director Stephanie Lynge.
“Sex With Strangers” is a very contemporary play with adult themes and script. Big kudos to the set designer who transforms the set from the B & B to the Apartment with a complete redesign and to the backstage people helping with the quick costume changes.
“Sex With Strangers” runs through May 12 at the Hippodrome Theater in Gainesville. Tickets are available at thehipp.org or box office (352) 375-4477.
Villager Don Simson reviews local theater for Villages-News.com