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Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Sex with Strangers" @ PCS

"Sex with Strangers" certainly does not live up to its provocative title. Director Brandon Woolley says in his Note that the title is what made the play stand out from the pile. I got the feeling again and again as the play wore on that the title gave the play a ton of unearned mileage.

I didn't hate "Sex with Strangers," it's just that it is persistently, insistently underwhelming. You see, I made special arrangements to avoid taking my mother, expecting to see and hear things I would feel uncomfortable having experienced with her in the next seat. While there was some-I guess you could say-- frank discussion, most of the prior- to-the-act scenes would have probably passed the Hays Office. This should not be construed as a plea for nudity, PCS' own production of "Venus in Fur" had no nudity and at times veered toward pornography. It even shared literary themes with "Sex with Strangers," and handled those in a far more interesting way as well. There was a moment when I thought I caught a whiff of cruel romantic betrayal ala the Poor Man's David Mamet, Neil LaBute, who has made a career of writing the same play several times, and despite this fact, they still manage to be entertaining. It is very sad indeed when you find yourself pining for a derivative twist pioneered by a man who has a reputation for being derivative himself and frequently of himself.  Every play I thought about when reflecting upon "Sex with Strangers" is better than "Sex with Strangers." None more so than PCS' "Threesome,"" a play with an equally salacious title, which delivered on its promises. Its final scene, in which a character screams desperately for her clothes, is ringing in my head at this very moment. My thoughts about "Sex with Strangers" on the other hand, will end with this sentence.

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