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Dead Man's Cell Phone

The Arches, Glasgow
Neil Cooper
3 stars
There are few things more pervasive in this gadget-obsessed society
than the ringing of a mobile telephone. The mere possibility of some
life-changing call is so great, it seems, that staying in touch at all
times is crucial. Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer Sarah Ruhl
makes this abundantly clear in her increasingly absurd study of just
how desperate making a connection can be.

It starts inconsequentially enough, with a man and a woman sat at
separate tables in a quiet little diner. If the possibility of
flirtation is there then no-one's saying much about it. Only when the
man's phone rings in earnest is the woman, Jean, prompted into an
action that steers her on a picaresque adventure involving grieving
mothers, wronged mistresses and loving brothers, not to mention the
proposed sale of a kidney in a South African airport.

Ruhl's play may only have been written in 2006, but so far has
technology come in terms of smartphones, social networking and all the
other new-fangled jiggery-pokery that keeps us hanging 24/7 that Euhl's
play – a UK premiere - already looks dated. It might have helped too in
Stasi Schaeffer's playful if uneven production if a clearly game cast
led by Susan Worsfold as easily-led innocent abroad Jean kept to the
script's clear American rhythms rather than their own voices.

Even so, as Jean lives vicariously through others, all the while making
amends for the life she's accidentally acquired, there's still great
fun to be had with Ruhl's take on a world where switching off and
pulling the plug on the latest gidget is for some a terrifying prospect.

The Herald, June 10th 2011

ends

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