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“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” Is an Offbeat 2007 Comedy

"Dead Man's Cell Phone" will run Jan. 20-22 and 26-29 and Feb. 2-5 on Raleigh Little Theatre's second stage

"Dead Man's Cell Phone" will run Jan. 20-22 and 26-29 and Feb. 2-5 on Raleigh Little Theatre's second stage

Raleigh Little Theatre will team up with Actors Comedy Lab once again to present American playwright and MacArthur Fellowship (genius grant) recipient Sarah Ruhl’s offbeat 2007 comedy, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, on Jan. 20-22 and 26-29 and Feb. 2-5 in its Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre.

Actors Comedy Lab co-founder Rod Rich will direct the show, which was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons of New York City. Dead Man’s Cell Phone debuted in 2007 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC before premiering at Playwrights Horizons in 2008.

When the curtain rises, Raleigh Little Theatre writes on its website:

“In a quiet café, a cell phone rings. And rings. And rings, until the stranger at the next table has had enough. She confronts the owner of the cell phone, only to discover that he’s, well … he’s dead. She begins to answer his calls and suddenly finds herself enmeshed in his life and family. Unfortunately, the dead guy has quite a number of shady loose ends. This surreal comic fantasy traces one woman’s accidental journey from the quiet cafe to the afterlife and back.

“The cast features some RLT regulars, as well as some newer faces, including Morrisa Nagel in the role of Jean; Stanley Amditis as Gordon/Dwight; Kate Tonner as Mrs. Gottlieb; Tracey Phillips as Hermia; Amy Nasiatka as The Other Woman; and Amber Ivie Hayles, Heather Shinpaugh, Lee King, and Hannah Lee as ‘The Crowd.’

“This delightful and delicate fantasy is full of brilliant insights into the way technology transforms our lives. This zany probe of the razor-thin line between life and death delivers a fresh and humorous look at the times we live in. [This] endearing play, which touches your hearts, and yet challenges your mind, will be performed in RLTs Gaddy-Goodwin Theatre, with general-admission seating.”

In profiling Sarah Ruhl for The New Yorker in 2008, John Lahr wrote:

“[Dead Man’s Cell Phone] is a meditation on death, love, and disconnection in the digital age; like her other works, it inhabits a dramatic netherworld between personal suspense and suspended time.

“‘Cell phones, iPods, wireless computers will change people in ways we don’t even understand,’ Ruhl told me. ‘We’re less connected to the present. No one is where they are. There’s absolutely no reason to talk to a stranger anymore — you connect to people you already know. But how well do you know them? Because you never see them — you just talk to them. I find that terrifying.'”

Actors Comedy Lab and Raleigh Little Theatre present DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE at 8 p.m. Jan. 20 and 21, 3 p.m. Jan. 22, 8 p.m. Jan. 26-28, 3 p.m. Jan. 29, 8 p.m. Feb. 2-4, and 3 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $15 ($12 students and seniors 62+).

BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or



Raleigh Little Theatre:

Actors Comedy Lab:



NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible.


The Play: (New Dramatists). The Script: (Google Books).

The Playwright: (New Dramatists) and (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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