The stakes are high as Good Theater begins its 16th season at St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland this week with the comedy “Sex With Strangers.” The theater company has lost money in each of the past two seasons, and co-founder and artistic director Brian P. Allen said the theater needs a big year at the box office.
“We have to do well this year,” he said. “As a small nonprofit with no endowment, we can’t do it with deficits.”
Allen and his partner, co-founder Stephen Underwood, have put together a season that includes about 170 performances, 50 more than Good Theater typically presents. The bulk of those added performances come from the doubling up of “Sheer Madness,” the fast-paced comedy back for the second consecutive season, and “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” which will run simultaneously.
“Sheer Madness” will have a nine-week run, from Jan. 10 to Mach 11, with performances Wednesday to Sunday. “Love, Loss” will play Jan. 20 to March 6, with performances Saturday to Tuesday. That means Good Theater will have seven days of theater in the middle of winter, with two shows sharing the stage and working off the same set.
First up is “Sex with Strangers,” a comedy that Underwood describes “as a play about an industry that begins with the letter ‘P’: publishing.” It’s a play about privacy and publicity in the age of the internet and how technology advances and complicates relationships. The story focuses on a sex blogger and his quest to connect with an older, obscure novelist and raises questions about how far will you go to get what you want.
Opening this week, “Sex with Strangers” runs through Oct. 22 at the St. Lawrence. It’s written by Laura Eason, best known for her work on the TV series “House of Cards.” It stars Amanda Painter in her Good Theater debut and Marshall Taylor Thurman, who starred as Spike in last season’s production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
“Sex with Strangers,” through Oct. 22, St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress Ave., Portland; $24 to $32; goodtheater.com or 835-0895.