Sex With Strangers at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Explores Our New Sexual Landscapes.

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Ensemble member Sally Murphy with Stephen Louis Grush in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason,directed by associate artist Jessica Thebus.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011.  What happens when a sexy hot millennial hooks up with an

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uptight gen xer? Steppenwolf Theater’s Sex With Strangers, being staged in the Upstairs Theatre at Steppenwolf, grapples with that question and more in the intercourse of Laura Eason’s play. 

Sex With Strangers is one of five plays chosen by Steppenwolf Theatre for their 2010-2011 season that examines the private self verses the public self.  The play takes a look at how relationships have changed with social media leading the way.  Playwright, Laura Eason, a member of the Lookinglass Theatre ensemble and author of more than 15 plays, originally penned the play in 2009 for Steppenwolf’s First Look Repertory where it was a break-out hit.

The new and revised Sex With Strangers features a two-person cast with Steppenwolf ensemble member Sally Murphy as Gen Xer Olivia–a women in her late 30’s who is smart, talented but uncomfortable in her own skin. Her counterpart, the self-confident and hot 24-year-old Ethan portrayed by Stephen Louis Grush, is seemingly the exact opposite.

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Stephen Louis Grush and ensemble member Sally Murphy in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason,directed by associate artist Jessica Thebus.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Olivia, a teacher and writer, is alone on hiatus at a remote Northern Michigan Bed and Breakfast when Ethan unexpectedly appears.  She is there to work on a novel which she told herself she would never show to anyone.  Ethan, who gained fame in the blogosphere by promising to sleep with a different girl every week for a year and then blog about it, is on deadline for his screenplay, Sex With Strangers.  He is beside himself to discover there is no reception for his smart phone and the wi-fi is out.

Although, Ethan is honest with Olivia from the beginning about his “sexcapades,” she has trouble dealing with that Ethan who seems so different from the Ethan she is starting to love.  Scared and confused, she backs off and on.  The play asks the question, “What happens when you love a person but hate what they have done.”

I generally like almost everything Steppenwolf does–naming three of their shows in my top ten picks for 2010–but “Sex” is not the earth-shaking revolutionary story I was expecting. With technology out-of-date as soon as it appears on the scene and 80-somethings signing up for Facebook faster than Devin Hester scoring on a pass, this “Sex” needs some more tweeting to bring it up to speed.  

Regular Run: 
February 1- May 15, 2011.

Curtain Times:                        
Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. (Sunday evening performances through April 10 only).
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.
Wednesday matinees on April 13, 20, 27 and May 4, 11 at 2 p.m.
Running Time: 1:50 minutes plus 15 minute intermission.

Tickets:                         
Individual tickets are $20-$73. Order tickets online at Steppenwolf Theatre.

Discount Tickets:

20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available at Audience Services beginning at 11 am on the day of each performance (1 pm for Sunday performances).

Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.  Student Discounts: $15 student tickets are available online using promo code: “STRANGERS15” (Limit 2 tickets.  Must present a valid student ID for each ticket). For additional student discounts, visit www.steppenwolf.org/students. 1650 N. Halsted St., 312-335-1650.

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  • Looks like a great show! Y'all should check out Broadway in Chicago's production of Working; I hear it's going to be great!!

    Here are some links for the show!!

    http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/shows_dyn.php?cmd=display_current&display_showtag=working11

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Working-The-Musical/144965522226555?ref=ts

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