New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Dead Man's Cell Phone

By Gary Wien

originally published: 08/20/2015

Dead Man's Cell Phone

In an almost empty cafe, a woman sits, drinking coffee, and writing a thank you letter.  Next to her is a dead man. When his phone won’t stop ringing, the woman decides to answer it and take a message.  In doing so, her quiet life is turned upside-down as she’s thrust into a world of mysterious strangers, shady business deals, and the potential for true love.  This is the story of Dead Man’s Cell Phone, a play by Sarah Ruhl that will be presented by Cape May Stage this September.

The play is a tale about memory, redemption, and the connection and disconnection that takes place in our technology obsessed world.  By holding on to the dead guy’s cellphone, the woman keeps the man alive in a strange yet significant way.  She also winds up getting involved with his whole family’s life, including a romance with the dead guy’s brother.

“What I found so extraordinary about the play was that some of the lines sound like a New Yorker cartoon,” explained Roy Steinberg who is directing the production.  “They’re hilarious and, at the same time, very poignant.”

Cape May Stage’s cast includes Abby Royle as Jean, Sheffield Chastain as Gordon/Dwight (i.e. the dead guy and his remarkably similar looking brother), Jennifer Terrell (Hermia/Other Woman/Stranger), and Marlena Lustik as Mrs. Gottleib.  The ensemble includes Denzel Hawker and Iraissa Ann Reilly.  

Dead Man’s Cell Phone has been described as everything from an oddball comedy to a surreal work to a satire of modern technology.



The article continues after this ad

 


“That’s what I loved about it,” said Steinberg.  “It is an oddball comedy, but, at the same time, it’s so contemporary.  I have friends who tell me their boyfriends broke up with them by texting on their phones rather than doing it in person.  The play is about our life in the 21st century. It is a fascinating study of where we are and where we are going.”

The play was originally commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, who produced the New York premiere Off-Broadway in 2008.  Two years earlier, the play made its debut in Washington, D.C., with a production by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.  Since that time, cell phones have become an even more integral part of our lives.  They have the unique ability to unite people and isolate people.  The concept of phone calls even after one’s death is like a metaphor for how much the technology is ingrained with us now.   For Steinberg, the challenge is to create an atmosphere and a tone that works in unison.

“My intent is to create an atmosphere where the actors are all in the same world with a very specific style that’s stark,” explained Steinberg.  “The writer talks about Edward Hopper paintings, the light, people that are alone, and the alienation that goes on.  That’s part of what we’re working on.”

Steinberg raves about Sheffield Chastain who has the challenge of remaining still for the first act.  In movies, pretending to be dead is easy due to multiple takes.  On stage, there is only one take, so a strong level of concentration is paramount.   Chastain was recently seen in The Guardsman at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

Many of Sarah Ruhl’s plays have been critically praised and received major awards.  The list includes In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee for Best New Play), The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, 2005; The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 2004); Passion Play, a cycle (Pen American award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center). Her most recent plays are Stage Kiss and Dear Elizabeth.

The entire season at Cape May Stage has featured the work of female playwrights.  Previous productions include Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit Of Molly Ivins by Margeret & Alison Engle; Mary, Mary by Jean Kerr; and The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe by Jane Wagner.  Upcoming plays this season include Trying by Joanna McCllelland Glass (October 14-November 15) and A Cape May Christmas by Marlena Lustik (November 27 - January 2).





For more by this author, click here




More Articles You Might Like

NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
The Simon & Garfunkel Story Comes To The Basie On January 23
The Simon & Garfunkel Story Comes To The Basie On January 23
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present  Murder Mystery Weekends
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
"Kinky Boots" Comes To Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
"Kinky Boots" Comes To Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
The Theater Project Presents 5th Annual One-Act Play Competition
The Theater Project Presents 5th Annual One-Act Play Competition
Centenary Stage To Hold Non-Union Open Call Auditions For 2019 Summer Musical Season
Centenary Stage To Hold Non-Union Open Call Auditions For 2019 Summer Musical Season






Event calendar
Friday, Mar 22, 2019


MUSIC

East Coast In Lullaby @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

LIONEL RICHIE @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

Swingadelic Featuring Rob Paparozzi @ Roys Hall (Blairstown), Blairstown - 8:00pm

Carolyn Messina at Table 42 @ Table 42, Dover - 7:00pm

Tom Chapin with Dan Pelletier at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

Finding Neverland @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Music of Cream @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm

Summer of Love IX @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

WARRANT @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 6:00pm

Selwyn Birchwood @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Mamma Mia @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Native Gardens @ Eagle Theatre, Hammonton - 8:00pm

The Source by Jack Canfora @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Sassy Mamas presented by Dunbar Repertory Company @ Middletown Arts Center, Middletown - 8:00pm

CURIOUS GEORGE: THE GOLDEN MEATBALL @ The Growing Stage: The Childrens Theatre of New Jersey, Netcong - 7:30pm

Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 7:00pm

Ken Ludwigs The Gods of Comedy @ Matthews Theatre @ McCarter Theatre, Princeton - 8:00pm

Theo @ Marion Huber Theater @ Two River Theater, Red Bank - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Comedy Night at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm


FILM

Hairspray Sing-Along with host Jeremy Grunin! @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 8:00pm


KIDS

Celebrate Holi @ iPlay America, Freehold - 4:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.