By RILEY SPELLMAN
From Wednesday, March 28th until Saturday, March 31st, Gulick Theatre featured a play production of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone. The story followed Jean (played by Sara Cushing ‘13), and her adventures caused by her discovery of both a dead man, Gordon (played by Matt Morrison ’14), and his cell phone, which she steals. As she goes about answering the dead man’s calls, she finds a new purpose to her days and new characters to fill her life. Some of these characters are Gordon’s bizarre mother, Mrs. Gottlieb (played by Olivia Downs ’15), Gordon’s dangerous mistress (played by Cullen White), and especially Gordon’s brother Dwight (played by Peter Quigley ’14).
The abstract play was very entertaining overall. One part in particular that I enjoyed was the “Cell Phone Ballet,” which played bits of recorded cell phone conversations while characters moved silently and artistically around the stage, demonstrating the suggestion of isolation caused by cell phones in today’s society. However, audience members that dislike unrealistic plays would find issue with the strange lines and choices within the script. The writing was humorous, though, and this made up for the abstract inconsistencies of the plot.
The production itself was staged in an interesting manner with balconies, origami, and a firemen’s pole. Director and SLU Professor Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead made a lot of cool choices with staging and also with including the audience in the play (e.g. by delivering the funeral speech towards us; by having Jean walk through before the funeral scene; by having the cast leave through the theater doors in the back, et cetera). The poignant message of limiting cell phone use was an positive message to promote with this play—it’s a message that normally most college kids shy away from, but seemed acceptable and perhaps even a good idea after seeing this play.
All in all, everything from the blue raincoats that a couple characters wore down to the visible transitions between scenes were chosen and created wonderfully. I hope everyone got a chance to see this show; supporting the plays (and musicals) is awesome. If you didn’t catch this one, you missed a good time. Congrats to the production team and actors for putting together such an entertaining show!