Bootless Artworks’ DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE: Black Humor At Its Best

by Holly Quinn

Randall McCann (Gordon) and Lindsey Burkland (Jean) in a scene from Bootless Artworks' DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE. (Photo Credit: Stephen Tipping)

Death transforms lives — of spouses, mothers and friends. For Jean, a single woman headed for 40, the death of a total stranger changes her life completely. And all because of a cell phone.

When she discovers that the man rudely ignoring his cell phone as she tries to have a quiet lunch in a quiet cafe is, in fact, dead, she does what seems natural: she answers his calls. Through his phone, which she convinces herself the dead man, named Gordon, wanted her to have as an unspoken bequeathment, Jean gets sucked into his life. As she meets the people closest to Gordon — his mother, his mistress, his wife and his brother — she begins to spin tales, transforming him into the man they needed him to be. She immerses herself into his life, even as the sometimes harsh reality of the kind of man Gordon was sets in. As things spiral into the surreal, she remains devoted to a purpose she’s entirely made up.

As Jean in Bootless Artworks’ production of Sarah Ruhl’s DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE, Lindsey Burkland is an endearing woman who prefers pen and paper to gadgets, with just enough quirk to be the kind of person who would volunteer for such a bizarre task. The people who quickly become her world are more than a little quirky too, from Gordon’s mother, played hilariously by Ruth K. Brown, to his brother Dwight, the unlikely hero, played by Bob DeMarco. Rounding out the cast are Jennifer Huff as Gordon’s shellshocked widow Hermia and Lauren Ojeda as the Other Woman.

Gordon himself, played by Randall McCann, is quite a character, even from beyond the grave. He laments the loss of a bowl of lobster bisque, a metaphor to be sure, as his life was more like a the bowl of lentil soup he wound up dying in front of. There was really only one thing he wanted, and it was the one thing Jean could honestly give him, without fabrication.

DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE is funny even when it’s not really funny — black humor at its best. As Bootless remains without a permanent theater, the group, for the second time, is set up in an empty store at the Shipyard Shops on the Riverfront. The setup is intimate and tiny — the audience was almost overflowing on Saturday — but it works.

Written by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Rosanne DellAversano
January 26 – February 5, 2012
Bootless Artworks
952 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

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1 comment

Bootless Artworks January 30, 2012 - 2:39 pm

Get discounted tickets to Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Thursday Night (2/2) – All tickets are $10. Adult tickets to Saturday night’s show (2/4) are half price when you use the code DEADFUN. They’re selling quickly so don’t wait.


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