“Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” written in 2008 by Sarah Ruhl, offers a balanced conglomeration of both satirical and comedic moments. The play will be performed again on Feb. 11 and 16 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. in Sponberg Theater.
This show contains adult language and is recommended for mature audiences.
This ninety-minute production directed by Pirooz Aghssa offers humorous madness from beginning to end, capturing audiences by the first missed phone call.
“I thought this was an innovative show that truly tested the balance between fantasy and reality,” said audience member Jahmeel Powers.
While the set is minimalist, it does not detract from the overall tone of the piece.
It might not be a prop-heavy show, but it is not lacking in creative moments.
Projection screens appear on four of the five flats (walls), while doorways connect the different flats creating an evenly developed set.
“The way the set is built breaks up the straight line of the back wall,” professor Wallace Bridges said.
The play begins in a small café in New York City. Jean (Marissa Kurtzhals), the main character, realizes that a man by the name of Gordon is dead, and proceeds to call 911.
Though this is a rather depressing moment, Jean breaks this mood by asking Gordon, “How did you die so quietly?”
Jean then proceeds to meet Gordon’s family and mistress when she comes into possession of his cell phone.
Eric Hohnke does a fantastic job playing both Gordon and Dwight Gottlieb, as both characters are complete opposites.
Gordon soon gets defined as an egotistical, non-caring man who is used to getting what he wants. According to his mother, this doesn’t end up well for everyone else in the long run. On top of being a narcissistic jerk, Gordon’s illegal job is with the organ black market.
Mrs. Gottlieb, played by Stephanie VanAlstine, is a very loud woman who does not have a sensor on her mouth. While giving a eulogy at her son’s memorial, a cell phone goes off in the church and she goes completely off the deep end.
In between Mrs. Gottlieb cursing like a sailor, she rants about how church is supposed to be one of the only sacred places left and how people can’t even turn off their phones. VanAlstine is absolutely fantastic in her role, and she screams power — in a motherly sort of way.
Heather Antos plays the Other Woman. This Other Woman has been Gordon’s lover for 15 years and is cold-hearted. Antos does a good job portraying this powerful, non-sentimental woman who has a sinful walk and thinks all women should know how to put on lipstick with no apologies to their surrounding environment.
Gordon’s wife Hermia, played by Emily Tipton, knows all about her husband’s infidelities but pretends he is someone else whenever they are together.
Hermia and Jean have a bonding moment in a bar when Hermia is absolutely drunk and calls Jean to pick her up. In an attempt to make things better, Jean tells Hermia that Gordon was drafting a letter written on napkins and he never got a chance to send it out.
While getting to know Gordon’s family, Jean starts getting closer to his little brother Dwight.
They share a tender moment at Dwight’s work before confetti stationary starts falling from the ceiling. Director Aghssa mentioned this was originally in the script and it offered a moment that complemented this farce.
“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” is a riot but still offers moments of honest communication. This is a well-balanced contemporary show that represents how well connected we all are, even when we think we’re alone.