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Sunday, 01 May 2011 08:02

Dead Man’s Cell Phone: Text and subtext

Written by Connie Bollinger
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slu.edu/theatre/Dan Donovan
slu.edu/theatre/Dan Donovan

It's a trip down the rabbit hole seated on an out of control locomotive headed straight for disaster but like the heroine, Jean, I could neither jump off nor look away.

It begins innocently enough: A man sits motionless at a table outside a café. His cell phone rings and rings. He doesn't answer it. Seated at the next table, Jean is unable to resist the incessant ringing, so she answers it for him, even after she's pretty sure the man is dead.

 While waiting for the EMTs, she stretches the imposition further, taking a couple of messages for him. She hangs on to the phone even after definitely dead Gordon has been taken away. Thus Jean embarks upon an adventure into the lives and dynamic of dead Gordon's family, interjecting herself into their world, setting in motion a juggernaut of lies, half truths, fabrications and deliciously impossible situations.

As Jean's actions become more and more bizarre, her motives become less and less muddled. Jean, with no apparent life of her own, hijacks Gordon's family and embraces them as one embraces a life jacket. In return she sets about gaining redemption for the hapless Gordon, painting a greatly altered picture of him as a fine fellow, generous and caring. and entirely worthy of redemption. It's a remarkable piece of theater, placing demands on actors and audience.

As usual with St. Louis University Theatre, all the performances are remarkable, the sets are breathtaking, sound and lighting are flawless, the costumes perfect and the direction fast paced and focused making our trip into Sarah Ruhl's bizarro world absolutely irrestible.

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