A global pandemic isn’t the best time to be hooking up with random strangers, so if you’re looking for some vicarious erotic thrills, Pride Films And Plays’s Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist will satisfy your desire. It will also make you consider how casual hookups impact your emotional well-being as playwright Sam Ward recounts his personal experiences with the now-shuttered personals section of Craigslist. As a bisexual twentysomething coming to terms with his sexuality, Ward learns a lot about himself through this mixed bag of flings, and his script makes audience members a part of the action with a heavy amount of interaction.
Performed with inviting warmth by Eric Sorensen and sensitively directed by Jeremy Ohringer, Five Encounters is an intimate and engaging piece of interactive theater. A hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017, the show offers an inventive approach to the confessional one-man show, but its success relies on the willingness of audience volunteers to participate. Volunteers get a name tag before the show so you won’t be asked to interact if you don’t want to, although there is a moment when Sorensen asks everyone to write something personal on a note card.
As one of the few shows currently running in the city, [see note at end of this review], Five Encounters delivers a satisfying hour of introspection that is more active than the usual solo fare. The timing is unfortunate for a show built on audience interaction, but Sorensen and Ohringer do commendable work creating an atmosphere that encourages viewers to open up and share some of themselves in the process. v