Magazine article Variety

Writers Get Cozy under the Covers

Magazine article Variety

Writers Get Cozy under the Covers

Article excerpt

"Sex With Strangers" sounds like fun. Scribe Laura Eason certainly tries hard to make it so, with a cunning plot about a callow young author of bestselling dreck who seduces a gifted older novelist, whose brilliant work he loves and envies. Sex with You don't often come across Second*1"5 a romance featuring literary stage figures who get all hot and Kiser Thea°er bothered talking about literature, and stars Anna Gunn and Billy Magnussen do their Laura Eason lip-smacking best to steam Ama1091 UP the stage. While it may Gunn, Billy seem churlish to resist the big Magnussen charm offensive, this is one of those in-your-dreams fantasies that evaporate by the dawn's early light.

This romantic two-hander, which was developed and launched by Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, is at its most engaging (irresistible, really) in the opening scene. Here, Eason deftly introduces her unlikely lovers - a serious but unappreciated older novelist and a bestselling young hack who churns out softcore porn - and lets them show us what an adorably mismatched pair they are.

That crucial first look, so carefully engineered by helmer David Schwimmer, plays out on Andromache Chalfant's handsome set of a nearly deserted bedand-breakfast in deepest, darkest Michigan. Olivia Lago (Gunn, "Breaking Bad") is a 40-ish author who looks as if she belongs in this secluded setting: She's surrounded by books and proofing a manuscript when Ethan Kane (Magnussen) blows in on the winds of a snowstorm.

If anyone can make the arrogant Ethan lovable, it's Magnussen, who earned a Tony nomination for "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. …

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