Review: Phone Technology is Only Part of the Surreal Story in Dead Man’s Cell Phone by the Comrades
Mrs. G. Gordon left his phone to you? Jean. Yes … he left it to me. Mrs. G. Why? Jean. He wanted me to have it. Why do you call him on the phone, after the funeral? Mrs. G. I call him every day. I keep forgetting he’s dead. It’s habit.Jean and Dwight find they have interests in common (they both love paper) and their friendship blossoms. And in discussion with everyone that Gordon knew, Jean manages to tell them what they wanted to hear: Gordon loved them, talked about them as he died, wanted them to have this token of his love, etc. [caption id="attachment_46765" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Moody and Li as Jean and Hermia. Photo by Paul Goyette.[/caption] The daffiness continues as Jean gets involved inadvertently in Gordon’s peculiar business. (Thus the Johannesburg trip.) Dead Man’s Cell Phone runs 90 minutes with no intermission and you will not be checking your phone (or watch if you’re old school) to see if it’s almost over. Soloway’s actors are all notable, and performances by Moody and Latta are particularly strong. Latta is adorably gloomy as the fur- and velvet–wearing Mrs. Gottlieb and Moody is simply believable as the lonely woman whose life is rejuvenated by a stranger’s cell phone. Sydney Achler’s minimalist stage set is highlighted by a set of angled walls that enable characters to appear and disappear without doorways. Mike McShane’s lighting and Eric Backus’ music and sound design make the quick scene changes by the cast work well. Kelsey O. Cox designed the costumes. Sarah Ruhl, a Wilmette native, is known for plays such as In the Next Room, or, the Vibrator Play; Eurydice; For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday; and The Clean House. Her work has received major awards and she received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2006. The Comrades, founded in 2016, continue with Dead Man’s Cell Phone in the second floor studio space at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2237 N. Lincoln, through March 10. Tickets are $20.
Nancy S Bishop
Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at nancybishopsjournal.com, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.