What happens to your cell phone after you die? Is it terminated? Is it recycled to someone else? Or does a mysterious woman pawn it off of you after your death in a café and is now she’s using it to connect with all of your family? For dead man Gordon, it’s the latter.
SRU’s theater department is bringing alive the life of a dead man through his cell phone contacts and with the help of a stranger through the contemporary play ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone.’
“The show really incorporates a sense of magical realism,” SRU theater department professor and director of ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’ Laura Smiley said. “The characters are very realistic.”
Smiley also explained that much of the show takes place in heaven, which is a café and laundromat.
“After Gordon dies, his reality becomes this café and laundromat where naked people are washing their socks. He’s stuck there until someone comes through his pipeline to his heaven.”
The woman in possession of Gordon’s cell phone is Jean, a young woman with no particular agenda, Smiley said. She explained that she uses Gordon’s cell phone to connect with the family and friends in his phone and ends up meeting them in person. Eventually she meets with Gordon through his new reality and is shocked by the person he turns out to be.
“Jean finds herself fixing Gordon’s problems through the lies she tells to his family and friends,” Smiley said. “She wants to think Gordon is 100 percent good, that is until she meets him Gordon has big imperfections.”
Smiley explains that Jean lives a nondescript life without a cell phone of her own to connect to people. She even says she doesn’t want to have a cell phone and that she would rather just disappear, Smiley said.
“Jean sees Gordon’s cell phone as an opportunity to keep him alive,” Smiley said. “Though she ends up living vicariously through him without realizing.”
Jean just wants to be wanted and to be loved, something Smiley believes most audiences will be able to relate with.
Upon finding the phone, Jean is met with Gordon’s shy and slightly awkward brother Dwight, who has seemed to live in his brother Gordon’s shadow along with their overbearing and dramatic ex-Broadway mother, Hermia.
“There’s a line in the show about Hermia,” Smiley said. “It’s ‘If Mother did not approve, Mother did not appear to love.’”
Love is an important connecting concept in the show, Smiley explained. There is a love interest between Jean and Gordon’s brother Dwight who would rather read ‘I love you’ on paper than on a cell phone, Smiley also said, because where do those sentiments go? Jean ultimately meets her soul mate through the phone.
“Dwight has to ask Jean if she is in love with her deceased brother when she becomes too involved with Gordon’s phone,” Smiley said.
‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’ incorporates the importance of connecting with friends and family and also the importance of saying ‘I love you.’ Smiley also said.
Things to look for in the show, Smiley said include a live music pre-show, a cell phone ballet and a cat fight.
“Funny story, the maintenance people came in while we were rehearsing the cat fight,” Smiley said. “They asked us, ‘Is everyone okay? Does anyone need anything?’”
Maintenance was convinced the fight was real, Smiley explained.
“The cat fight is great,” she said. “There’s lots of kicking, and hitting, and scratching, and punching, and a gun!”
The fight is between Jean and a mysterious Russian woman in Gordon’s life, Smiley said.
“The biggest question in the show is when you die, do you still live if someone answers your phone?” Smiley said. “The show is darkly comedic, but it also asks, does anybody really talk anymore other than through their cell phones?”
Smiley explained that we become connected through death, “As Gordon says, only a dead person is 100 percent good and life is like a very large Brillo pad.”
To understand this sentiment, Smiley encouraged students to get their tickets at the Smith Student Center or an hour before the show in the old student union. Tickets are $7 for students and $12 for general admission. The show opens this Friday at 7:30, with two shows Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and additional shows Monday September 30 through Thursday October 3 at 7:30 p.m.