What would you do if a stranger next to you suddenly dropped dead? Calling an ambulance might be the logical response, but then “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” a play written by Sarah Ruhl, is not based on logic.
“(‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’) starts with a woman sitting at a café and she hears this guy’s phone ringing, which he won’t turn off, and realizes that he’s dead,” said senior and lead actress Lee Sisson. “She answers his phone and starts to take over his life. She goes to his funeral and meets his wife, his mother, his lover and his brother and just gets more drawn in until she eventually meets him. How? You’ll have to wait and see the show”
Luckily, you do not have to wait for long. “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” opens this evening in Sternberger Auditorium. The production is limited and will only be performed five times. Catch one of the encores on Nov. 7, or Nov. 12-14 at 8:00 p.m.
The play is not only the Guilford Theatre Department’s debut performance for this year, but also a welcome addition to their repertoire.
“It’s a comedy for once,” said senior and costume staff member Nina Troy. “(Our senior project) is ‘Boeing Boeing,’ another comedy, so there are a lot of laughs. It’s all very different from the past seasons we’ve done.”
Performances from previous years include “The Crucible” (2014-2015), “Animal Farm” (2013-2014), and “Spring Awakening” (2012-2013), all of which have very tragic plots and high casualties, even for the drama genre.
The excitement of the cast and crew implies that the show will be just as powerful as old productions, despite having more laughs. The play has a few twists of its own to keep the audience interested.
Ruhl disguises her critique of the digital age and cell phones behind a whimsical plot and ridiculous characters.
“When I first read the play and noticed all the moments that require some stage magic, I thought, ‘How do we do that?’” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies Marc Williams in an email interview. “We’ve avoided looking at other productions to see how those artists met the play’s challenges. We wanted to create our own solutions.
Comprised of an eleven-person ensemble, five of which are non-speaking roles, “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” incorporates a couple new creative elements.
“We have a dancing ensemble that helps dance us through all the scenes and give us a more expressive version of the play,” said Sisson. “It’s a full experience and a full artistic endeavor. We want this dream-like perspective because this play is about the people and the connections you make.”
Make sure to clear your schedules for the weekend to make time for this breathtaking performance, and, as Ruhl would say, leave your cellphones at the door.
“It is really good,” said Troy. “All the actors and crew members have put a lot of hard work into it and you can tell. Even the first-years, who have just been thrown into this without any idea of what they’re getting into (have worked hard). We’ve all stepped up to the plate.”