Sex sells - just ask theatre director Colin Mitchell. Last year, his play Sex with Strangers sold out after receiving enough hits on the Ticketek website to propel it into the booking company's top 10 pages. That was even before the cast was announced.

It was so successful, Mitchell was invited to stage Sex with Strangers - second edition as part of The Edge's STAMP season, showcasing new productions, artists and edgy new works.

"Sex with strangers is a fairly evocative phrase," he admits, "and one that had been on my mind for some time. I thought it would be a good starting point for a play."

The second edition opens this week with many of the cast and crew from last year tempted back for a second go.

Writers, including Jodie Molloy, Jacques Strauss, Bro'Town's Mario Gaoa, Lee Baker, Peter Cox and actress Danielle Cormack, have penned new vignettes centred on the question: "What happens when someone awakens to discover they have shared the most intimate of acts with a person they do not know?"

Each story is seven to 10 minutes-long, and although each of the couples may be in a similar situation, the reactions differ markedly, from comedy to horror.

Mitchell says finding new takes on the theme was not an issue - after all, it is a subject people always have an interest in and an opinion on.

The cast includes Cormack, Antony Starr, Kip Chapman, Andi Crown, Jaxin Hall and theatre veteran Stuart Devenie.

Devenie, who appeared in the first Sex with Strangers, says he was delighted to be asked for the second instalment.

"I'm probably the oldest in the cast and I felt quite honoured to be asked to be in it. I enjoy that it's eclectic and different and a lot of fun. I like that you work closely with the writer.

"It's like you are workshopping the piece because the writer is there so the script can be refined as we go through it. I suppose you could call it guerilla theatre but it was the way things were once done in theatre.

"Writers were attached to a company and would be with the actors all the time. The way theatre developed means now we do not often have the writer present during rehearsals."

Devenie admits he was surprised at how popular last year's season was.

"They said we were going to do a late-night show and I thought, 'Why? No one will come - this is just youthful folly'.

"But I underestimated the power of text messaging. The theatre was packed with all those who had received a text saying it was a show worth seeing."

At 25, Mitchell is a young director, but one Devenie believes is worth watching.

"He is going to be wonderful. Each of the actors rehearse their stories separately - in their couple - so at the end of last year's show, when there were 12 of us on stage for the curtain call, there was a feeling of, 'Where did all these people come from?'

"Colin did a superb job pulling the whole thing together and deciding in what order to run the stories.

"He was very skilful in shaping the evening so it had a kind of a rhythm to it."

Mitchell worked at the Auckland Theatre Company through its director-in-development programme and staged The Scentless Apprentice and My Brother and I are Pornstars at the Silo.

He says he asked people he had enjoyed working with previously to take part in Sex with Strangers.

"I suppose you could say that in a show like this, you are asking a little of a lot of people."

While he likes directing because it involves working with so many people in a variety of areas, it can have its moments.

Last year two actors withdrew from Sex with Strangers in the final week of rehearsals; this year he has had to juggle Auckland rehearsals with the Wellington opening of My Brother and I are Pornstars.


When and where: Herald Theatre, Dec 7-17