Iowa City – Dreamwell’s 2016-17 season continues with Sara Ruhl’s unusual comedy, Dead Man’s Cell Phone. We had the chance to ask director Brian Tanner a few questions about the show. Go here for tickets and more information.
Can you give us a quick synopsis?
Jean is at a cafe when a man’s cell phone continues to ring. She answers his phone and discovers that the man is dead. She takes it upon herself to answer the man’s calls and begins to incorporate herself into fits family and life, which takes her down paths no one could have predicted.
What is the humor like?
I’d classify this as a dark comedy. The humor is satirical and dry at times, but it also comes from the humanity of the characters and the absurdity of the situations. We’re not necessarily laughing at these characters as much as seeing the humor in the situations and how they respond. They each have their own quirks but that’s also what makes them shine.
What were the most challenging aspects of putting this show together?
The script calls for some technical aspects that we’ve accommodated to the black box theatre environment of Public Space One. Also fitting a number of locations into the space… but I think how we’ve chosen to present it adds to some of the more metaphysical themes and feel to the show.
Who from the cast is really standing out in your mind?
Honestly, I’m very proud of everyone in this cast and everyone has their moment to shine. Melissa Kaska as Jean is doing an amazing job taking us along on her journey and is so endearing to watch, even as Jean is dangerously heading off the rails. Sage Spiker gives us the dead man’s side of the story with surprising revelations and he’s really come into his own in fleshing out this character. Regan Loula always cracks me up in her turn as a mysterious stranger. Valerie Davine Bills, Hunter Menken, and Madonna Smith round out Jean’s newly extended family as the dead man’s mother, brother, and widow respectively. They all bring their own reflections on the death of Gordon and put Jean through her paces.
Why should we see this show?
This show is surprisingly and unassumingly deep with many layers. You will find yourself thinking about how we are all connected, how we connect, what are physical connections and metaphysical, and we’ve find that the ending leads to many interesting interpretations and discussions. At the same time, you can just sit back, enjoy, and have a great time without getting too heavy if you don’t want to. I think if you want something a little different from the normal you will find it here.