Photo by Daren Scott
Lisel Gorell-Getz and Connor Sullivan in Sex with Strangers
There’s a good deal to be said for the voyeuristic jollies one gets while watching, on stage, two attractive people flirt, fondle and get it on (the latter behind a closed door). It’s about what you’d expect from a play called Sex with Strangers, right? Laura Eason’s much-produced 2009 piece throws together two characters, Olivia and Ethan, who love themselves as much as they lust after each other, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s entertaining seeing the younger Ethan (Connor Sullivan) trying to minimize his success from chronicling his shallow sexual exploits while simultaneously seducing the older, serious novelist Olivia (Lisel Gorell-Getz). Round and round—and up and down—they go for two hours.
But when Eason’s script dwells on the transcendence of writing “significant” fiction and novels that will somehow change the world, the Ethan-Olivia interplay becomes a bore. Regardless of how engaging Sullivan and Gorell-Getz are, or how fluidly director Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg has them moving on the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Lyceum Space stage, it strains belief that these two characters are invested more in meaningful prose than they are in each other’s flesh.
Sex with Strangers runs through March 19 at the Lyceum Space in Horton Plaza, downtown. $40-$67. sdrep.org
Maybe because its ruminative drama comes wrapped in familiar family scenarios (teen promiscuity, frantically conflicting schedules, cell phone propriety and lots of exasperated yelling), the Old Globe’s The Blameless treads the path of the “very special episode” of a relevant sitcom. Its nexus is considerably weightier than that: a family whose son Jesse was killed in a college campus shooting hosts (not to be confused with welcomes) the father of the boy, also dead, who pulled the trigger. Nick Gandiello’s play, which was developed last year in the Globe’s New Voices Festival, resides in the awkwardness of the situation and each family member’s particular way of coping with terrible grief, anger and resentment. But only the character of Jesse’s emotionally repressed father (Frank Pando) truly touches the heart. Everyone else seems to flare, retreat or break down as if by remote control.
The Blameless runs through March 26 at the Old Globe ‘s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park. $29 and up. theoldglobe.org
Kinky Boots: After his father dies, a young Brit must enlist the help of a drag queen to help save the shoe factory he’s just inherited. With music and lyrics from Cyndi Lauper, the Broadway musical opens March 9 at the Civic Theatre in the Gaslamp. sandiegotheatres.org
On the 20th Century: A comedic musical about a down-on-his-luck theatre producer who is trying to convince his actress ex to play the main part is a nonexistent drama. Directed by Sean Murray, it opens in previews on March 9 at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. cygnettheatre.com