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PACA explores collision of technology, love in 'Strangers'

July 11th, 2019, 2:00 AM

This article was originally published in the Erie Times-News

By Diane Chido / Contributing writer

Surprises can be the outcome when people who meet online try an in-person relationship.

Have you ever read a novel that changed your life? Have you ever imagined meeting the author on a dark and stormy night and having a steamy affair?

That might be going a little far for some of us, but not for Ethan, a 25-year old blogger who is one of the main characters in the play "Sex With Strangers" taking the stage Friday at the Performing Artists Collective Alliance. Ethan is famous for writing about his own one-night stands and other adventures and his bestselling book has even become a blockbuster movie. He is also a technophile of the first rate.

Olivia is a 40-ish college professor struggling to complete her second novel. After weak reviews from her first book, her bruised literary ego is suffering a crisis of confidence. Enter the antidote: Ethan has enough chutzpah for both of them. He has become obsessed with the original novel and its seemingly mysterious author; Olivia is not even on Facebook!

Olivia goes to a writers' retreat seeking seclusion to finish her manuscript. Wanting to feel like a "real writer" and hoping to meet his muse, Ethan arrives in a snowstorm. There is, of course, poor wireless signal, which does not phase Olivia, but causes Ethan to worry that after a day without his posts, his friends and fans will fear the worst.

This play is best described as a "bodice-ripper," quipped director Craig Schneider. Due to the size of the theater and the intensity of the relationship portrayed by the only two actors in the production, Krista Perry and Michael Haas, the audience will be grateful for the air conditioning, which Schneider promises will be on high. He also cautions that some content and themes in the play are "not appropriate for youngsters."

Schneider describes Perry and Haas as two of the best actors in the area and believes their performance underscores the theme of the show: This is a love story.

"There is just not enough love in this world, and the show portrays how technology intended to bring us together can make us more like strangers, even to the people we think we know," he said.

Schneider said that younger people, like Ethan's character, vet potential partners online, but may not reveal their own true selves. Once people who meet online, or even in a book, spend time together in person, there may be more than a few surprises.


"Sex with Strangers" takes the stage July 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27, 8 p.m., at PACA, 1505 State St. Tickets are $15. BYOB permitted with ID. For more details, call 434-0687 or go to

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