If you go
What: "Dead Man's Cell Phone"
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14-16
Where: DeNault Auditorium, Reiland Fine Arts Center, 6000 College Lane, Jamestown
Details: University of Jamestown Theatre production, mature theme, language
Tickets: $8; 252-3467, ext. 5435, or uj.edu/the-arts/reiland-box-office
One script kept calling back even after moving on to other ideas for his first full-length theater production, said Hunter Carpenter, a senior at the University of Jamestown Theatre program.
"Dead Man's Cell Phone," a 2007 dark comedy from playwright Sarah Ruhl, is an engaging perspective on losing meaningful connections because of a growing attachment to mobile devices, said Carpenter, who is directing the play.
"It's thought provoking," Carpenter said. "There's things it has to say about our connection with our cellphones, our electronics and how that is causing us to distance ourselves from our real relationships ..."
Leading a cast of 11 actors, Kenady Hansen, a UJ senior exercise science major and theater minor, plays the central character, Jean, who, annoyed by an unanswered cellphone in a coffee shop, answers it for Gordon, who she is not aware just died of a heart attack at his table. She pretends to know him and creates a false reality by getting to know his family and others on his contact list-even going to Gordon's funeral.
"She has a sense of loneliness that I think adds a real layer of depth to her and she really wants to connect with people but she's just not sure how," Hansen said. "So, this cellphone kind of gave her a connection to people and in reality it kind of turns her away from people as she gets more and more into the cellphone."
The monologues are challenging and fun with rhythmic patterns and poetic lines, Hansen said. The play emphasizes the importance of connecting with people, she said.
"It's really important to step back and realize what you have in reality and not just on social media," Hansen said.
Nate Swanson, a UJ sophomore computer science major, plays Gordon, the dead man. He appears in the second act as a ghost who doesn't exactly like where he is at and has a lot of jokes and sarcasm for the people around him, he said.
"I love this character," Swanson said. "You wouldn't think it but he's charismatic, in a crazy way."
Part of the story is getting to know who Jean and Gordon really are, Carpenter said. They appear normal in every sense but there is an element of tension and mystery building, he said.
The story looks at how Jean got to this point, Carpenter said. There is sympathy for her situation but the truth becomes unraveled and it hits her all at once, and the viewer is left to internalize their own meaning, he said.
"It discusses false realities as to what we believe to be as real life for us," Carpenter said. "That is what she's (Sarah Ruhl) trying to show us in this play."