Imagine the person you lost your virginity with ended up being not the one you married, but the one with whom you have an ongoing, if intermittent, affair – sometimes exhilarating, sometimes disappointing. Well, that’s how it is for me and the theatre.
I’m talking about real theatre, live theatre, the sort that I fell in love with as a teenager, back in that phase of life when too much was never enough. Although we’ve drifted apart, the theatre and me, still there are moments when we reconnect. We sometimes see each other here in Hobart, but not as often as I’d like. Mostly it’s when I’m off the leash and travelling that I make the effort to get in touch. Sometimes, I worry that we’ve permanently lost the magic, but then I’ll see a play good enough to set off a bunch of well-rehearsed chemical reactions in the brain and there it is: love all over again.
I’m guessing no-one at the Tasmanian Theatre Company knew that when they asked me along to their show Sex With Strangers, and to write something about it, the invitation was, for me, a little like getting a phone call from an old flame.
So, Sex with Strangers. The title alone is a come-on, and it’s worked for Ethan (Samuel Johnson), who’s made the New York Times bestseller list with a blog-turned-book that chronicles the outcome of his boast that for a whole year he could, each week, pick up a girl in a bar and get her to have sex with him. Ethan’s now rich and successful, with a powerful internet reach. But his dirty secret is that even he holds the vehicle of his success in contempt, and would rather be a literary novelist, like Olivia (Tottie Goldsmith).