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Conversations After Sex

In this production from Ireland, a young woman battles the sadness of loss while seeking solace in numerous sexual encounters.

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Fionn Ó Loingsigh and Kate Stanley Brennan in a scene from Mark O’Halloran’s “Conversations After Sex” at the Irish Arts Center (Photo credit: Emon Hassan)

[avatar user=”Christopher Caz” size=”96″ align=”left” ] Christopher Caz, Critic[/avatar]

“Sex first, talk later” has always been an alternative to humankind’s traditional dating and courtship rituals. In fact, “talk later” is optional, and sex “hookups” have never been easier to make happen with today’s technology.

Setting aside societal shame and judgment, anonymous sexual encounters have their benefits. If the chemistry works, then there’s the immediate gratification in the form of pleasure. If the connection isn’t perfect, then deciding to make a quick exit (either before or after the experience) can be awkward, as well as deciding whether a “repeat” is in order.

A bigger question which might come to mind is why does a person choose an anonymous “quickie” over getting to know someone first? Are they looking for validation, or avoiding fears of loneliness, commitment, or rejection? Are they wearing anonymity like armor?

Such thoughts come to mind as Mark O’Halloran’s swift and engaging play Conversations After Sex unfolds, a collection of scenes in which the unnamed character of “She” (played by Kate Stanley Brennan) engages in post-coital dialogues with several different men she has met on-line, in bars or in passing (all portrayed by Fionn Ó Loingsigh).

Kate Stanley Brennan and Clelia Murphy in a scene from Mark O’Halloran’s “Conversations After Sex” at the Irish Arts Center (Photo credit: Emon Hassan)

O’Halloran’s carefully placed exposition eventually reveals that “She” is suffering from a loss that has become more staggering to her as she allows herself to share it, whether it’s with these men she barely knows or her sister (Clelia Murphy), with whom she has a difficult relationship.

Brennan triumphs in her performance as “She,” portraying the subtle nuances of vulnerability and contrasting hardness, revealing a searching depth and personal bewilderment with each of the men in different ways. She carefully navigates “She’s” debilitating emotional pain under a false bravura, evoking compassion even in her character’s less than shining moments.

Ó Loingsigh’s portrayals of men “A” through “J”, engaging and well done, if less than distinct. Playing 10 different men all while wearing the same underwear and/or shirt cannot be easy; one could argue that, in the end, these anonymous men are ultimately intended to run together for the audience as well as for “She.” Ó Loingsigh is a worthy match for Brennan, and their connection as actors is consistent even when their characters don’t always hear each other. Murphy’s role as “She’s” sister is small but nevertheless significant and well-played.

Fionn Ó Loingsigh and Kate Stanley Brennan in a scene from Mark O’Halloran’s “Conversations After Sex” at the Irish Arts Center (Photo credit: Emon Hassan)

The direction by Tom Creed is sharp and precise; he effectively shapes the scenes, maximizing the intent of each coupling and creatively utilizing Sarah Bacon’s efficiently designed set, which is well complemented by Sarah Jane Shiels’ lighting design and Ivan Birthistle’s sound design.

O’Halloran’s script is smart, and his character developments are rich and invested. The language is, at times, overly colloquial, and there are enough unfamiliar Irish terms to occasionally impede the listener’s understanding.

Conversations After Sex is ultimately winning and thought-provoking, positing that sex as a salve for pain can be a solution that’s hard to break away from.

Conversations After Sex (through March 11, 2023)


Irish Arts Center, 726 11th Ave, in Manhattan

For more information or tickets visit

Running time: 85 minutes without an intermission

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About Christopher "Caz" Caswell (65 Articles)
Christopher Caswell hails from Austin, Texas, but has called New York City his home for over three decades. Seasoned cabaret soloist, longest running member of the award-winning pops group "Uptown Express" and contributor to, he shares his view from the audience for
Contact: Website

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