The Opposite of Love

The Opposite of Love
Reviewer's Rating

A wealthy young woman hires a male prostitute to help her get over her sexual trauma. It is obviously a terrible idea, and their first meeting is a disaster. But it makes for excellent drama. The Opposite of Love, a new play by Ashley Griffin, interrogates the limitations of intimacy, how, in navigating their desire for love, two people must learn whether they have the capacity to be vulnerable.

Set in a sparkling and modern apartment, Eloise lives in a world where money has both protected and damaged her. She thinks that throwing money at her problems, for example paying a prostitute as a short-cut to learning how to have sex, will protect her from further pain. When Will keeps turning up, once a week as long as he gets paid, she gradually learns how to be intimate, how to touch and be touched, how to let go of her fears that men are going to hurt her. A kind of therapy, perhaps, but there is something unsettling about using a prostitute for this, a man who is also battling with sexual trauma and abuse from his childhood, and has no training in how to help guide a woman through psychological healing.

(Review contains spoilers from here)

Danny Gardner and Ashley Griffin are superb throughout. Two people learning how to be intimidate, letting down their walls, sharing the most vulnerable parts of themselves: Gardner and Griffin portray this with a dynamic energy, tension rising and falling as they come close and pull apart. When Eloise cries, sharing the heartbreaking story of her uncle’s sexual abuse, Will longs to hold her. It takes time, but she finally allows herself to be held, a moment of beautiful intimacy when he puts his arms around her and, for the first time, touch no longer makes her afraid.

For all this growth, it is then deeply disappointing, that they cannot hold on to the connection between them. Will has fallen in love with Eloise; but Eloise has got what she paid for – the ability to have sex without feeling emotional and physical pain.  She finds a new way to navigate the give and take of relationships. The only way she feels able to join the games of dating, with the accompanying threats of rejection and abandonment, is to put up walls and stop feeling anything at all. For what is the opposite of love… indifference.

The Opposite of Love might be a depressing commentary on the transactional nature of modern dating and relationships, but there is hope. Two people find a way to form a beautiful and intimate connection. Unfortunately for Eloise and Will, the very foundation of their relationship is problematic. It can never be real, not when she is paying him to be there, and he is happy to accept the piles of cash she throws at him.

A bold and hard-hitting play, audiences can expect conversations about sex, trauma, non-consensual acts and suicide. Ashley Griffin’s play, with thoughtful direction by Rachel Klein and Crista Maria Jackson, will open important conversations about dating in today’s world.


Playwright: Ashley Griffin

Director: Rachel Klein 

Cast: Danny Gardner and Ashley Griffin 

Scenic designer: Brendan McCann

Lighting designer: Zach Pizza. 

Production Stage Manager: Kelly Merrit

Assistant Stage Manager: Emily Katherine 

General Manager: Kaylin Kellin 

Royal Family Performing Arts Space, 145 West 46th Street

Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission

Performing until June 15, 2024

30 May 2024