Laura Eason took on the ruthless world of politics as a writer for the Netflix series “House of Cards.” In the salaciously titled “Sex With Strangers,” now opening Good Theater’s 16th season, she tackles another big “P” – publishing.

Directed by Good Theater’s production manager, Steve Underwood, the play stars Amanda Painter as Olivia and Marshall Taylor Thurman as Ethan. Olivia is a reticent middle-age teacher who is reluctant to pursue a writing career after mixed reviews of her first book when she was in her 20s. Ethan is an upstart 28-year-old who has made a name for himself writing embellished sex memoirs. He’s technology-obsessed – “I can’t get online. People will think that I’m dead,” he says at one point – while she likes to unplug with a good, old-fashioned book.

Other than a shared love for writing, it appears that the characters couldn’t be any more different. But when the two meet at a rural bed-and-breakfast in Michigan, sparks fly in and out of the bedroom.

The play’s stars are well cast, with Painter embodying both Olivia’s needy insecurity and seething ambition. Thurman delivers cocky sex appeal with underlying desires that are much deeper than his handsome looks.

Under Underwood’s direction, the pair embraces Eason’s sharp wit and humor, offering provocative insight into the world of publishing and its relevance in the ever-changing technology arena. How have technological advancements like the internet changed publishing, and the world in general? Olivia and Ethan offer a personalized view of the digital divide with a burgeoning relationship that highlights two schools of thought, but are they really that different?

Underwood also serves as set and sound designer, creating an aesthetically pleasing two-part backdrop for the play. There’s a feeling of tranquility to the Michigan bed-and-breakfast and a simple elegance to Olivia’s book-filled Chicago apartment. Both speak to a bygone era, with touches of technology creeping in. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch as Good Theater’s scenic artists transform the bed-and-breakfast into Olivia’s apartment during intermission.

Good Theater’s “Sex With Strangers” is a water-cooler production that elicits discussion and conjecture after the production is over. The play plants seeds of thought with twists, offering a teaser of an ending that leaves the audience guessing.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ahboyle

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