Friday, February 3, 2012

Bootless Artworks' Dead Man's Cell Phone

Lindsey Burkland as Jean
As much as I know Bootless Artworks would prefer to have their own permanent theater (and who can blame them?) there’s something exciting about going to a different location for every Bootless play. It’s like an adventure, especially when the theater is an empty storefront in the Shipyard Shops, as it was for last year’s The Pillowman, and as it is for the current show, Dead Man’s Cell Phone.

The makeshift (and I mean that in the best sense of the word) theater has a low stage and about 45 seats on risers, ensuring that there isn’t a bad seat in the house. On Saturday night, the place was packed -- I think they even added a few extra seats. Bootless has been offering online deals for this show, and it seems it’s paying off. After Dead Man’s Cell Phone, I would bet that many of the new patrons will be back.

Directed by Rosanne DellAversano, who also designed the sets and costumes, Dead Man’s Cell Phone tells the story of a woman named Jean (Lindsey Burkland), who finds herself caught up in a whole new life when she starts answering the cell phone of a dead man in a cafe. The dead man, Gordon (Randall McCann), had a mysterious life filled with colorful characters, including his somewhat neurotic firecracker of a mom, played by Ruth K. Brown; his basket case wife, played by Jennifer Huth; his mistress, played by Lauren Ojeda; and his lonesome brother, played by Bob DeMarco. Jean, as the last person to see Gordon alive, delivers them messages of his final thoughts and words -- despite the fact that she never actually spoke to him.

Bob Demarco as Dwight and Lindsey Buckland as Jean

There’s more to Sarah Ruhl’s darkly comic story, as it takes a surreal turn and we learn more about Gordon than the idealized image Jean has built up. At its core, Cell Phone is about yearning to make real connections in an electronic world. It’s funny, well-acted, and fresh -- a bargain at any price.

You can still catch Dead Man’s Cell Phone this weekend through February 4 (the Sunday show has been cancelled). See for more information.

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