Sex with Strangers

This is not a call to action, since possibly a good proportion of you are married or attached, but rather an account of a brilliant play I saw last night that explores themes that bloggers and writers will find intriguing. It was Ryan Corr and Jacqueline Mackenzie onstage having the ‘sex’. The play we saw last night at the Sydney Theatre Company reminded me of all the things that make live performance intense and raw and wonderful, and so different to reading a book or watching a movie.

The play explores the digital age through the intergenerational relationship that develops between the main characters of Olivia and Ethan. Olivia is an old-school writer and book lover in her late 30s, enamoured with the literary greats and focused on the tactile appeal and smell of books. She’s offline and fond of the writerly process, hiding out in writers’ retreats and terrified of criticism. Ethan, breezing in one night, is the 20-something charismatic writer of the digital age, who’s had a blockbuster bestseller based on his blog, itself based on his stories of arseholery and one-night stands. He’s so connected he’s taken for dead after two days of no shows on Twitter.

It explored the ideas that literary writing is good but doesn’t sell just on merit, versus popular writing and the question of whether its authors have any more ‘in’ them, the importance of selling and popularity and the evolution of publishing in the age of e-books;   all relevant and topical subjects. What was riveting for me though, was watching the two actors BE onstage. Sitting in the front row, with my feet perched on the stage, there were moments of such intimacy in the facial expressions of the actors that I almost felt I needed to look away. Hell – I have trouble showing that much vulnerability in REAL LIFE, let alone on a stage, in my boxers, in front of a full theatre.

Yes – ‘in my boxers’ … I’m getting to that. So, there was very believable chemistry between the leads and they seemed very comfortable jumping on each other. Jacqueline Mackenzie was awesome, but more ‘actorly’ in her delivery I thought, and seemed somehow less vulnerable. Of course, she’s more experienced, and her character was also less ‘out there’ than Ryan’s who laid it all bare.

If you feel like you’ve just interrupted something, it’s cos you have.

I realised what an awesomely promising stage actor he is, with his beautiful diction and clear projection (compared to the lovable bogan he plays on Packed to the Rafters with the matching bogan accent). He did REAL TEARY EYES PEOPLE – proper fake crying – and that seduction face – woah. I felt I was hiding under somebody’s bed. Our seats meant that I could have reached out and poked him in the leg, so I sat on my hands for a little while.

Theatre is SO fun. It’s like watching really interesting people have a relationship, without worrying about them getting hurt (cos they’re not real), watching them pick up and strip off without feeling like a total pervert (cos you’re sitting next to your partner in a seat you paid for), then watching how they fight without worrying about having to choose sides. It’s people-watching at its finest, and in this case, played out in a microcosm of the writing and publishing worlds. Fun, fun, funnety fun for book nerds like me.

The best part of all? It was inspiring. It’s made me want to write like a maniac.


21 thoughts on “Sex with Strangers

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  3. My hubby is an actor and so when he was in acting school I saw A LOT of theatre (student and professional). Fast forward three years, we’ve moved two hours out of Sydney where we can afford to rent, and we have a ten month old baby… Last month we went to the theatre for the first time ALL YEAR! It was such a mission, and my breasts were so engorged when we got home, but it was so worth it. Do you know though, as I sit here I can’t even remember what we saw, but I know it was awesome. It was something at Belvoir… Maybe it’s just as well we haven’t spent heaps of money on babysitters, tickets and fuel…

    I love your write up and I wish we could go and see the play. I’d love to get season tickets to Belvoir or STC but we may have to wait a couple of years for that to be a reality!

    Visiting from #IBOT, glad I found your blog. Off to stalk you now :)

    • Thanks Jenn. You’re a bit lucky! (Or perhaps a bit jaded ?;) I don’t think I could commit to season tix even now – we had such a debacle locking in a babysitter even for that one night, I thought we were going to miss out!
      You know … you’ve given me a great idea for my xmas list – season tix to the Belvoir. Thanks! So glad you came to visit too.

  4. I go a bit, but price comes into it a lot. I weigh up how much I like the play and the cost (so often new plays don’t get a look in). I do find myself counting the cast, to justify the cost and decide if it was worth it…weird, hey?

    • HA then if it’s only two actors, do you weigh up the value of the ‘names’ to justify the cost? I agree though – i stalked the play synopses thoroughly before settling on this one. We are weirdies together.

  5. I love a good live production! (sometimes I don’t mind a bad one too). I saw Jacqueline Mackenzie about 25 years ago and she was so great, I was sure she was going to be a huge star. Fame/Hollywood is such a weird thing. She still looks the same too – oh wish I had the good genes….

    • HAHA that brings back memories of high school musicals for me … Rhythm of Life chorus particularly, ‘yeah yeah yeah MAAAAAAN’. How embarrassing to have been a high school singing hippie.

    • LOL yep it’s me – weirdo ;) It was a very rare attempt at culcha for me too – but SO fun I’m going to try and afford it more often. (Because – let’s face it – that’s usually the prohibitive factor!)

    • HA this is true – though nothing would surprise me after someone landed here after searching for ‘beef toenails’. Pretty sure I haven’t written about them.

  6. I’ve never been to a proper live play, (only school performances) with real actors. Having read your post though it sounds like so much fun. Glad you felt inspired, great post :)

    • Thanks Krystle. Now that inspiration of mine just needs to have a little discussion with my time, and my management of it, and come to some kind of agreement …

  7. I do love to go and see live theatre. It is a completely different experience to other forms of entertainment. I am glad you had a nice night out. Was that shot of someone walking away, of you? Check out those pins! :)

    • Well… he had literally just stepped off the plane from a business trip to China. I was using up some bonus points. (Which, miraculously, you can accrue by watching such wonderful films as the Avengers [ahem] and Prometheus [you would REALLY like that one Brenda – the Fass steals the show utterly ;)

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