“Dead Man’s Cellphone” First Draft Reviews

Please post your first draft of the Dead Man’s Cellphone reviews here.

7 Comments on ““Dead Man’s Cellphone” First Draft Reviews

  1. In this day in age, almost everyone has a cell phone glued to his or her hip. However, have you ever wondered what happens to a cell phone when its owner passes on? Well until I saw Dead Man’s Cell Phone, I sure didn’t. This delightfully awkward comedy shows how one man lives on past death- with a little help from a stranger. That is, a stranger who answers his phone when it keeps ringing in a cafe after he’s kicked the bucket. The narrative then continues to follow the path of the stolen cell phone and the people who call it, until the second act when the show takes several obscure turns towards becoming a twilight zone episode.

    This show addresses how technology in this day and age can both bring people together, while isolating them at the same time. Its an important show for our generation to see, at a time when people can’t go more than several minutes without checking their phones, and people without smart phones become a rarer sight each day. Early in the play Jean reflected. “I didn’t want to be there, you know. Like if your phone is on you’re supposed to be there. Sometimes I like to disappear. But it’s like — when everyone has their cell phones on, no one is there. It’s like we’re all disappearing the more we’re there.”

    The Le Moyne production was well executed and its technology was as high tech as a cell phone itself these days. A voice modifier was used at the start with the pre show announcements to pull the audience in before the production even began. Projections were well utilized to change the background and thus show the switching of location with minimal set pieces or props. Projections were also well utilized to give the audience a view of some of what was going on the cell phone itself. Selfies included.

    Natasia White plays a Jean who is so blatantly awkward that the audience can’t help but laugh at the social interactions she finds herself in. At the same time Jim Maxwell plays a Gordon, so brutish and rude, it makes one wonder if all the trouble Jean went through for him was worth it. The rest of the ensemble is mostly support for these characters, while their choreography is cool to watch, there are very few characters that are fully developed. In a cast of twelve, six members are simply ensemble with little to no characters to play. The dance choreography that the ensemble does however was essential for showing the high paced anonymous feel of the city that this play occurs in.

    The only distraction that I found from this production was the slow reveal of more string lights with reflective mirrored panels. As each scene occurred in the first act, another section of lights was revealed. While quite appropriate for some time in the second act, the rest of the play I was distracted often from the stage lights hitting the reflective pieces. While cool to look at they were not necessary. At one point during this production one of the lights even fell down. Lets not forget had this happened where an actor was standing they could have been seriously hurt.

    Putting the small things aside, this production was well put together, and had an intriguing plot even with its twilight zone moments. It may have required a great deal of suspension of disbelief, however if you were willing to go the extra mile you were rewarded with an adorable, awkward and thought-provoking comedy.

  2. Dead Man’s Cell Phone Review

    I must say I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the theatre for Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Our connection to our devices and how they’ve become a part of who we are is a common thread in storytelling these days. I thought I would be seeing an absurdist satire about cell phone usage or a series of silly vignettes told by the company. What I got was sort of the former, but I’m not entirely sure to be honest with you.

    Jean is a young woman living in a bustling city. One day at a café she comes across a man whose phone won’t stop ringing. She goes to complain but then discovers that the man is dead. In the midst of confusion she takes his cell phone and begins to integrate herself into the lives of the people who knew that man. Throughout she travels to far places like Africa to the afterlife.

    I have never been at a greater loss for words at something I’ve seen. I did not understand what this piece’s overall message. It’s an interesting premise that sets up some intriguing thematic thoughts like how we connect and why we disconnect with people, but the play doesn’t seem to know what it wants to say. The writing is clever on occasion, but there were times when the audience was rolling in the aisles and I just sat there confused.

    However, I don’t fault the ensemble for that. They stuck with their characters and played them in a way that I bought who they were. The physicality of the actors during the transitions was engrossing to watch, but apart from that I didn’t feel invested. When the dead man, Gordon, starts to talk in the second act it’s amusing, but it feels odd. The relationships between the characters felt underdeveloped and forced instead of natural. I believed the ensemble, but I didn’t follow what their ultimate goals were.

    That’s something I started to try and figure out as the show went on. It seemed to me that there was something wrong with Jean. Absurdist plays don’t really work unless at least one of the main characters is mentally unhinged and I observed that in Jean. There was a moment when she was taking things out of her purse that she wouldn’t normally have and I thought, “Oh, she’s a klepto,” which would explain a lot about how she isn’t all there with the world. However, the play doesn’t explore that further and I either misinterpreted it or they didn’t explore it.

    The set seemed like it was trying to make the audience and the characters feel boxed in as well. It starts off very closed off before expanding into a grander, more open space. They also hung mirrors which constantly shined light into my eyes that I thought was to make me feel more uncomfortable as Jean got into more precarious situations. I could be reading into that a little too much, but I’m not really sure what I’m missing or what I’m getting in this show.

    Dead Man’s Cell Phone is a difficult show to pin down. It’s filled with all this clever absurdist humor that’s fun for a while, but it gets pointless when it gets to the end. Sometimes the comedy is too broad and the characters don’t quite feel finished. There is a moment near the end where Gordon tells Jean that she shouldn’t try to work out how she got where she got. It seemed to me that that’s what the play was trying to tell me: to not look for the greater purpose and just enjoy the ride. I tried to do that, but I couldn’t enjoy the ride as much as everyone else.

  3. Dead Man’s Cell Phone By Sarah Ruhl is full of both awkward and dark humor I was unsure of what to expect out of this production walking into the theater with the understanding that one of the characters dies yet the play is supposed to be a comedy. The play has an unexpected beginning with a robotic sounding voice asking the audience if they are human and to please turn off cell phones. The plot centers around two characters Gordon and Jean played by actors Natasia White and Jim Maxwell. The two characters meet under somewhat disturbing circumstances as Jean happens to find Gordon’s dead body when politely asking him to shut off his cell phone. Upon realizing he is dead and unsure of what else to do Jean takes on the responsibility of carrying the dead man’s cell phone (thus tying into the name of the play)and answering the calls of those who do not realize Gordon has passed away. The plays primary focus is the death of Gordon but there is the underlying theme of technology and how it is slowly consuming our lives. As the play goes on Jean more and more becomes consumed by her “duty” thus furthering the plays message.

    My biggest problem with this play overall was the projection of the actors voices. Although he had fewer lines than the rest of the cast Gordon was really the only one I could hear clearly. The other actors could be heard as long as their lines were taking place near where I was seated. If the action was taking place on the other side of the stage though the actors could barely be heard. There were slight technical problems as well, the music at times overshadowing what was going on onstage and some of the reflective materials that were hung as part of the set would catch the light on occasion which was slightly distracting. As far as characters are concerned I was bothered by the fact that Jean appeared incredibly closed off throughout the play I was expecting her to become more open as the play progressed but that didn’t end up happening. Jim Maxwell’s character had his flaws too taking a long time to get to the point of what he was saying and going off on tangents that seem to have nothing to do with the basic storyline. One part of the cast that was enjoyable however was the “ensemble” the choreography was very well done and the ensemble’s actions were so well put together that they were able to form the set piece of a subway train when it was called for. The set itself was very simple and easily moved around the ensemble again worked well together to ensure any changes to both scene and set were done in a timely and professional manner

    I would recommend this play if only for the fact that it is so refreshingly different from the rest as well as relatable to any audience. At one point Jean talks about a woman in the drugstore on her cell phone talking very loudly. which unfortunately is a very common situation in this day and age. I’m sure any audience member has encountered this at some point or another in time or may even be guilty of it themselves. Gordon’s mother Mrs Gottlieb(played by actress Jessie Gherardi) also says near the beginning of the play “there are only one or two sacred places left in the world” which upon reflection is also a very true and relatable statement to the audience. There are very few if any places in today’s world where we can escape technology, even the so called sacred places Gherardi mentions in the play such as the theater or the toilet are no longer free from technology. Humans have become so consumed by this necessary evil that it is a terrifying thought to have to do without it. This play may have been released to the world in 2007, but it carries a message that still rings true to the general population even today.

  4. Dead Man’s Cell Phone Rewrite

    I must say I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the theatre for Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Our connection to our devices and how they’ve become a part of who we are is a common thread in storytelling these days. I thought I would be seeing an absurdist satire about cell phone usage or a series of silly vignettes told by the company. What I got was sort of the former, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure.

    Jean is a young woman living in a bustling city. One day at a café she comes across a man whose phone won’t stop ringing. She goes to complain but then discovers that the man is dead. In the midst of confusion she takes his cell phone and begins to integrate herself into the lives of the people who knew that man. Throughout she travels to far places from Africa to the afterlife.

    I have seldom been at a greater loss for assessing something I’ve seen. I did not understand what the overall message of the piece was. It’s an interesting premise that sets up some intriguing thoughts, like how we connect and why we disconnect with people, but the play doesn’t seem to know what it wants to say. The writing is clever on occasion, but there were times when the audience was rolling in the aisles with laughter and I just sat there confused.

    However, I don’t fault the ensemble for that. They stuck with their characters and played them in such a way that I bought who they were. The physicality of the actors during the transitions was engrossing to watch, but apart from that I didn’t feel invested. When the dead man, Gordon, starts to talk in the second act. It’s amusing, but it feels odd. The relationships between the characters felt underdeveloped and forced instead of natural. I believed the ensemble, but I didn’t follow what their ultimate goals were.

    That’s something I started to try and figure out as the show went on. It seemed to me that there was something wrong with Jean. Absurdist plays don’t really work unless at least one of the main characters is mentally unhinged and I observed that in Jean. There was a moment when she was taking things out of her purse that she wouldn’t normally have and I thought, “Oh, she’s a kleptomaniac,” which would explain a lot about how she isn’t all there with the world. However, the play doesn’t explore that further and I either misinterpreted it or they didn’t explore it.

    The set seemed like it was trying to make the audience and the characters feel boxed in as well. It starts very closed off before expanding into a grander, more open space. They also hung mirrors which constantly shined light into my eyes that I thought was to make me feel more uncomfortable as Jean got into more precarious situations. I could be reading into that a little too much, but that’s what I observed.

    Dead Man’s Cell Phone is a difficult show to pin down. It’s filled with clever absurdist humor that’s fun for a while, but it gets pointless when it reaches the end. Sometimes the comedy is too broad and the characters don’t quite feel finished. There is a moment near the end where Gordon tells Jean that she shouldn’t try so hard to work out things out. It seemed to me that that’s what the play was trying to tell me: to not look for the greater purpose and just enjoy the ride. I tried to do that, but I couldn’t enjoy the ride as much as everyone else.

  5. Here is my second draft 🙂

    In this day and age, almost everyone has a cell phone glued to his or her hip. However, have you ever wondered what happens to a cell phone when its owner passes on? Well until I saw Dead Man’s Cell Phone, I sure didn’t. This delightfully awkward comedy shows how one man lives on past death- with a little help from a stranger. That is, a stranger named Jean who answers his phone when it keeps ringing in a cafe after he’s kicked the bucket. The narrative then continues to follow the path of the stolen cell phone and the people who call it, until the second act when the show takes several absurd turns towards becoming a twilight zone episode.

    This show addresses how technology today can bring people together, while isolating them at the same time. It’s an important show for our generation to see as people without smart phones become a rarer sight each day. Early in the play Jean reflected. “I didn’t want to be there, you know. Like if your phone is on you’re supposed to be there. Sometimes I like to disappear. But it’s like — when everyone has their cell phones on, no one is there. It’s like we’re all disappearing the more we’re there.”

    The Le Moyne production at region one KCACTF was well executed and its technology was as high tech as a cell phone itself these days. A voice modifier was used before the play began to make the pre show announcements; this pulled the audience in before the production even began. Projections were well utilized to change the background and thus show the switching of location with minimal set pieces or props. They were also well utilized to give the audience a view of some of what was going on the cell phone itself, drunk texts and selfies included.

    Natasia White plays Jean as a character so blatantly awkward that the audience can’t help but laugh at the social interactions she finds herself in. At the same time Jim Maxwell plays Gordon, a man so brutish and rude, it makes one wonder if all the trouble Jean went through for him was worth it. The rest of the ensemble is mostly support for these characters, while their choreography is cool to watch, there are very few characters that are fully developed. In a cast of twelve, six members are simply ensemble. The dance choreography that the ensemble does however was essential for showing the high paced anonymous feel of the city that this play occurs in.

    The only distraction that I found from this production was the slow reveal of string lights with reflective mirrored panels. As each scene occurred in the first act, another section of lights was revealed. While quite appropriate for some time in the second act, the rest of the play I was distracted often from the stage lights hitting the reflective pieces. While shiny and futuristic looking, they were not necessary. At one point during this production one of the lights even fell down. Let’s not forget that had this happened where an actor was standing they could have been seriously hurt.

    Putting the small things aside, this production was well put together and had an intriguing plot even with its absurd moments. It may have required a great deal of suspension of disbelief to follow the plot, however if you were willing to go the extra mile you were rewarded with an adorable, awkward and thought-provoking comedy.

  6. Second Draft of Dead Man’s Cell Phone

    Dead Man’s Cell Phone By Sarah Ruhl is full of both awkward sex jokes and dark humor with an almost cartoon edge to them as well as sweetly endearing moments that capture the audience. I was unsure of what to expect walking into the theater. After chatting with various audience members prior to the curtain going up, I gained the understanding that one of the characters dies yet this play is marketed as a comedy. The play has an unexpected beginning with a robotic sounding voice asking the audience if they are human and explaining the rules. The plot centers around characters Gordon and Jean played by actors Natasia White and Jim Maxwell. The two meet under somewhat disturbing circumstances as Jean happens to find Gordon’s dead body when politely asking him to shut off his cell phone.

    Upon realizing he’s dead and unsure of what else to do Jean takes on the responsibility of carrying the dead man’s cell phone (thus tying into the name of the play)and answering the calls of those who do not realize Gordon has passed away. The plays primary focus is the death of Gordon but there is the underlying theme of technology and how it is slowly consuming our lives. As the play goes on Jean more and more becomes consumed by her “duty” thus furthering the plays message. Gordon’s mother Mrs Gottlieb(played by Jessie Gherardi) says near the beginning of the play “there are only one or two sacred places left in the world” which upon reflection is a very true and relatable statement to the audience. There are very few if any places in today’s world where we can escape technology, even the so called sacred places mentioned in the play such as the theater or the toilet are no longer free from technology.

    My biggest problem with this play overall was the projection of the actors voices. Aside from the mysterious woman (played by Gordon was really the only one I could hear clearly despite the fact he had fewer lines than the rest of the cast. The other actors could be heard as long as their action and lines were near where I was seated. However,if the action was taking place on the other side of the stage though the actors could barely be heard. There were slight technical problems as well, the music at times overshadowing what took place onstage and some of the reflective materials that were hung as part of the set would catch the light on occasion which was slightly distracting from the performance itself.

    As far as characters are concerned I was bothered by the fact that Jean appeared incredibly closed off and uncomfortable throughout the play it would make sense that as the play progressed she would become less so which she does at points but only for a moment before closing right back up again. Jim Maxwell’s character had his flaws too, taking a long time to get to the point of what he was saying and going off on tangents that seem to have nothing to do with the basic storyline at all. One part of the cast that was enjoyable however was the “ensemble” the choreography was very well done and the group moved as they should, together as one unit in order to enhance the performance and at one point formed a subway train when it was called for. The set itself was very simple and easily moved around the stage courtesy of the ensemble cast living up to their name and ensuring that changes to both scene and set were done in a timely and professional manner.

    Although this production is a touch small for the space it had to occupy The production did fairly well but would be better off on a small stage. This play is worth watching if only for the fact that it is so refreshingly different from the rest as well as relatable to any audience. At one point Jean talks about a woman in the drugstore on her cell phone talking very loudly. which is a fairly common situation in this day and age. I’m sure any audience member has encountered this at some point or another in time or may even be guilty of it themselves. Humans have become so consumed by this necessary evil that it is a terrifying thought for us to have to do without it. This play may have been published in 2007, but it carries a message that still rings true to the general population even today

  7. Every so often a play comes along that addresses an issue so pertinent to today’s society that the theme alone is enough to keep you riveted from beginning to end. Luckily, La Moyne’s production of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” also combines humour, dance, romance and surprising emotional depth to tell this highly relevant story, which contains a message the entire twenty-first century could seriously benefit from.
    The play follows a young woman named Jean who ends up at a café sitting next to a dead man, of all things, whose cell phone keeps ringing. Not knowing what else to do, she answers it. One thing leads to another and Jean is swept into the dead man’s life so completely that it swiftly begins to change hers in a jumble of astonishing, comedic and romantic consequences.
    The first act is delightful–it remains funny and charming despite considerably dark content. The talented cast is enjoyable to watch as they portray characters you’ll either love to hate or find yourself falling in love with. For instance, Ryan Bannen, who plays Dwight, will steal the show as well as your heart.
    However, when the second act of the play takes a sudden dive into the surreal, a development not fully explained or established, some of the magic of the first act is lost. The production itself remains energetic and visually captivating, but the story stumbles. The ending (up until the last five minutes, which beautifully recapture the magic of the first act) feels rushed and bizarre beyond understanding–the surreal aspect seems unfounded, almost as if it doesn’t quite belong with the rest of the play. Not that it isn’t well-written in itself, but it’s almost as if it disrupts the action continued from the first act, potentially ruining what had been developing into an endearing, heartfelt, hilarious story of characters struggling to navigate reality without getting swamped by the technology steadily taking over.
    That being said, despite the confusion revolving around the second act, the play remains entertaining throughout–communicating the essential message that our current generation is so lost in technology that (hypothetically) most people would find it easier to connect with dead people through cell phones than the real people right in front of them. This incredibly relevant message is so eye-opening it hits like a punch to the face we all desperately need. So, if an adorably awkward romance and promise of a vibrant dark comedy is not enough to catch your interest, than the importance of this message should make up for it–its relevance alone succeeds in making “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” worth watching.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: