Jenny Strassburg wants to be perfectly clear: The best thing about “Sex with Strangers” is the writing.
“The writing is incredibly smart, and the more I read it the more I really appreciated it,” said Strassburg, who plays the female lead in Laura Eason’s 2011 play opening Friday at Capital Repertory Theatre and running through Oct. 15. “The issues are very palpable and important. It’s the public vs. the private, and how we deal with all this special technology. If you put your work out there, does it belong to you anymore?”
“Sex with Strangers” is about two aspiring authors who meet at a Michigan Bed and Breakfast. Strassburg plays Olivia, a woman struggling with her confidence, and Ben Williamson is Ethan, a younger man looking for a little literary help and perhaps something else. Stephen Nachamie, who was in charge of Cap Rep’s 2015 production of “4000 Miles,” is directing.
“One of the issues raised in the play is Ethan’s dating life and his book,” said Strassburg. “Women are pretty much disposable and objectified in his book. She wonders if he actually feels that way about women, and another issue is how my character feels about that.”
At times, the actors are in various stages of undress.
“The clothes come flying off, but there’s no explicit nudity in the play and it’s not pornographic at all,” said Strassburg, who played the female lead in “Venus in Fur” at Cap Rep in 2013. “Doing a play like this you have to be comfortable in your own skin, and everyone has struggled with that at some point in their life. Doing ‘Venus in Fur’ here really helped me. I was walking around in underwear during that show, so this is an adult show.
“But it is a very sexy, funny play,” continued Strassburg. “The characters are wordsmiths, so they are always trying to challenge and top each other with language. There’s a clash between Generation X and millennials at work, and the way we communicate now – with social media, selfies and self-promotion — taking a part.”
Since her last visit to Albany in 2013 for “Venus in Fur,” Strassburg has spent three summers at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and has performed as Lady Macbeth in New York Classical Theatre’s “Macbeth” and Stella in Virginia Stage’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” She was also a part of the world premiere of “A Class Act” at New World Stages.
Strassburg grew up the daughter of military parents and while they were on the move a lot, she likes to call Charleston, South Carolina, home. She always wanted to be an actor.
“I think my first production was ‘Winnie the Pooh’ when I was 6,” she said. “When it came time to decide where I was going to school and what I was going to study, I couldn’t think of doing anything else other than become an actor. I felt like there wasn’t even a choice to make.”
For Willliamson, the Cap Rep production of “Sex with Strangers” is his second gig as Ethan, having played the role before at American Stage in Florida. He has also been busy performing with Actors Theatre of Louisville, Asolo Repertory, the Cider Mill Playhouse and the Urbanite Theatre.
‘Sex with Strangers’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: Preview performances Friday through Sunday; show opens Tuesday and runs through Oct. 15; performance times are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $55-$20, $16 for students
MORE INFO: (518) 445-7469, www.capitalrep.org
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