@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.

Dead Man's Cell Phone

By Sarah Ruhl, Directed by Ceil Herman

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    Dead Man's Cell Phone Preview
  • L to R: Dwight (Eric Brekke), Jean (Nora Brown), Hermia (Jamie Bronstein) and Mrs. Gottlieb (Karen Caroe)
  • L to R: Dwight (Eric Brekke)and Jean (Nora Brown)
  • L to R: Hermia (Jamie Bronstein) and Jean (Nora Brown)
  • L to R: Mrs. Gottlieb (Karen Caroe), Jean (Nora Brown) and Dwight (Eric Brekke)
  • L to R: Carlotta (Jamie Bronstein) and Jean (Nora Brown)
  • L to R: Jean (Nora Brown) and Hermia (Jamie Bronstein)
  • L to R: Jean (Nora Brown) and Carlotta (Jamie Bronstein)
  • L to R: Gordon (Eric Brekke) and Jean (Nora Brown)
  • L to R: Jean (Nora Brown) and Gordon (Eric Brekke)
  • L to R: Dwight (Eric Brekke), Jean (Nora Brown) and Mrs. Gottlieb (Karen Caroe)
  • L to R: Gordon (Eric Brekke) and Jean (Nora Brown)
  • L to R: Jean (Nora Brown) and Mrs. Gottlieb (Karen Caroe)
  • L to R: Jean (Nora Brown) and Dwight (Eric Brekke)
  • L to R: Gordon (Eric Brekke) and Jean (Nora Brown)
  • L to R: Jean (Nora Brown) and Dwight (Eric Brekke)

Apr 12-Apr 28, 2013

FRI APR 12,19| 8:00 PM
SAT APR 13,20| 8:00 PM
SUN APR 21,28| 2:30 PM
THU APR 25 | 7:00 PM


No Strings Theatre presents "Dead Man's Cell Phone" by Sarah Ruhl and directed by NSTC's Artistic Director, Ceil Herman. This unusual and charming love story which deftly combines fantasy and realism opens Friday, April 12 and runs through Sunday, April 28 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces.

Your cell phone rings and you're not available to answer the call, so someone else does. What kind of information could someone get from answering your calls? Sarah Ruhl has explored this very situation in "Dead Man's Cell Phone."

Communication, misinformation, grief, confabulations and a need for human interaction are all explored in this wonderfully poetic and fantastical world that Ruhl has constructed. At a nondescript cafe an extremely unremarkable woman named Jean has taken possession of a cell phone belonging to Gordon, a dead man at the table next to her. Though she never met the man, until after his demise that is, she seems compelled to answer his calls. In the process she meets Mrs. Gottlieb, Gordon's eccentric mother; Hermia, Gordon's awkward widow; and Dwight, Gordon's lonesome brother who, in spite of looking an awful lot like Gordon, bears no resemblance to the mysterious dead man.

Despite the very real, very alive connections that Jean begins to make with Gordon's family, and the information they reveal about Gordon, she still clings stubbornly to what has become a symbol of the man she wished Gordon to have been. An internal battle ensues as Jean struggles between the image she created of Gordon and the man he actually was. In the same token, Jean's confabulations cause the same sort of disconnect for his family members about who Gordon actually was.

"Dead Man's Cell Phone" contains everything from the actual to the absurd. In fact, Charles Isherwood, of the New York Times play review, noted that [the playwright blends the mundane and the metaphysical, the blunt and the obscure, the patently bizarre and the bizarrely moving to extraordinary effect].

Everyone must see "Dead Man's Cell Phone," as it is a masterful work about how these devices of communication seems to isolate rather than connect. They, despite being so inconceivably linked to our lives, provide on a partial if not entirely false reflection of our real lives and keep us from ever truly connecting.


Mrs. Gottlieb
Assistant Stage Manager
Cell Phone Ballet Choreography
Fight Choreography
Light And Scenic Design
Light Operator
Stage Manager
Written By


Black Box Theatre's 'Dead Man's Cell Phone' is compelling with formidable cast
- By Bill Varoulas, Pulse [04/23/2013 12:14:21 PM MDT]

Sometimes you just have to be amused, so it was off to the Black Box Theatre, home of the No Strings Theatre Company, at the north end of Main Street.

The play, which will be at the Black Box through Sunday, is "Dead Man's Cell Phone" by Sarah Ruhl. And it really is a comedy.

Cellular telephones come with a number of built-in annoyances, not the least of which is their tendency to ring in public places. But what if the owner doesn't answer and the phone continues ringing? Would you be tempted to pick it up?
Jean does. When she discovers the phone's owner has died, she feels obliged to continue answering the phone until she has exhausted the pool of callers. In fact, she tells people that Gordon, the phone's late owner, insisted that she keep the phone just before he died, the first of many fictions Jean attaches to her new responsibility. And it really is a comedy.

Jean follows the phone from Gordon's mistress, through his family - Gordon's wife, mother and brother - to Johannesburg, South Africa in search of love, meaning and herself. She even makes a brief stop in an afterlife to confront and learn from Gordon. And it really is a comedy.

All right, it's a comedy with profound existential overtones. There's even a dance team illustrating the fragile fluidity of our cell phone driven world to the tune of The Cars' "Hello Again." I enjoyed "Dead Man's Cell Phone" very much, which is a hard thing to do of late.
In large part, it was because of the skill of the actors, directed by the Black Box's own Ceil Herman. Ceil knows how to please her audience and does so by using the unique qualities of the Black Box to interface her actors and that audience.

Jean comes to us courtesy of Nora Brown, who makes Jean's quest seem believable, almost logical, despite its absurd premise. Brown's Jean does a remarkable job of creating the Gordon she wants while taking her purpose for her quest in the Jean she wants to be. Nora Brown is very good.

Karen Caroe brings us Gordon's mother, almost a caricature of the distracted mother who doesn't try to know her child until he is gone, who sees Gordon's life as a series of vignettes instead of as a whole human being. It would have been very easy for Caroe to take Mrs. Gottlieb over the top, but she, admirably, did not.

Jamie Bronstein played three roles in "Dead Man's Cell Phone." She was an international human organ smuggler, Gordon's mistress and Gordon's widow. Bronstein was able to separate the three skillfully so that I did not think of each role as being played by the same actor. Of course, I'm easily fooled, but I ascribe the situation to her skill and not my gullibility. Jamie Bronstein also has a gift for droll humor.

Eric Brekke also played more than one role, in this case the occasionally late Gordon and his brother, Dwight. The differences in the characters, both physically and attitudinally, were remarkable and a testament to Brekke's skill.

All in all, a formidable cast under the direction of a gifted director presenting a compelling play. You can ask for more, but you won't get it.

For information or reservations, call 575-523-1223.


No seating plan has been posted.


Our next production is Animal Tales The normal ticketing system will be used but you may only select the number of seats you require and we will assign seats to comply with NM Covid requirements. You may request row 1, 2, 3, or 4 and we will do our best to honor your request. Please see the event pages for details.

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