Dead Man’s Cell Phone

Imagine sitting in a nice café during your lunch break, quietly minding your lobster bisque. No one else is around except for a nicely dressed man and the sound of his ringing cell phone he seems to refuse to answer. What would you do? What if this man was dead?

This changes everything for our protagonist, Jean, played by Alex Woodruff, who after answering the dead man’s phone gets wrapped into a chaotic world full of family chaos, love, and bought and sold organs. The last being a clever surprise by Sarah Ruhl, the revered playwright known for her plot twists.

Tom Martin, the director of SLU’s adaption, has done a remarkable job depicting how the nature of intimate relationships change in our technology crazed society. Set up against this backdrop, Jean must face her preconceived notions about death, love, and redemption.

Auditions for Dead Man’s Cell Phone took place in December, just before winter break. Rehearsal began two months prior to the show’s opening night, giving those actors who were apart of the University Theatre’s Much Ado about Nothing little time between productions.

Sophomore Mark Holzum is no newcomer to the stage. He has performed in over a dozen productions including Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing and Cole Porter’s classic musical, Anything Goes, which debuted on SLU’s mainstage last February. Despite the ease and fluidity that seemed to distinguish Mark’s performance, his character Gordon, the dead man with the cell phone, was perfected through multiple one-on-one sessions with Tom Martin.

“Most of the acting comes from the direction of the script. Every action I make is in order to find why the author writes the way she does,” said Mark.

That was also one of the many challenges the University Theatre faced in adapting Sarah Ruhl’s play. Taking many themes from the genre of film noir, the play called for the use of multiple mirrors, shadows, and bright lights that would enhance the sometimes other worldly feel of the play. A giant wall with large glass panes in the middle was constructed as the backdrop of many scenes. Different and sometimes multiple projections would play themselves on the glass panes showing the audience past clips of the characters or ethereal patterns that marked the passage of time and space.

These themes, while difficult to emulate, were seamlessly reproduced on stage through the efforts of many.

“I enjoy the creative process that goes into making the show. The collaboration of tribulations and elations is what helps make you appreciate the final product. Then, I can share that appreciation with others,” said Sophomore Mollie Amburgey.

This production is on the University Theatre’s mainstage. It is located on the lower level of Xavier Hall. The dates of the performance are April 29, 30 and May 6, 7, and 8, 2011. The Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., the Sunday performance is at 2 p.m.

Tickets are priced at $10, seniors $9, faculty/staff of Saint Louis University $9, and all students $7. Reservations and more information available at 314-977-3327

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