WSU Theater Preview: Dead Man’s Cell Phone

Posted on April 12, 2012 by


By Matt Cunsolo

No spoiler alerts here- the man in the café is dead. The shy, unassuming Jean, however, does not know this when she decides to answer his incessantly ringing cell phone for him. Nor does she realize that her decision to do so will plunge her into a web of confabulation as she attempts to mend the severed ties he left with his outlandish family – only to find the greatest transformation may be her own.

It is a whimsical dark comedy, prodding at serious themes with humorous jabs. Thematically, it is a study of human identity and how we have adapted in this technological age. How do humans connect in a world that is so seemingly superconnected, and yet more disconnected than ever? Do they?

In an interview for The New Yorker, conducted by journalist Paul Rudnick, Sarah Ruhl, the American playwright, elaborated on this pervading thematic element. “Cell phones, iPods, wireless computers will change people in ways we don’t even understand,” Ruhl stated. “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.”

Her style is renowned for being contemporary and fresh as she writes about relevant subject matter that until recently has been largely unexplored. Her clever insight works its way through the script with a subtle poignancy. The director and cast have worked diligently on crafting complex, realistic characters with the humanity to explore these deep issues of the human condition and the right amount of quirkiness to highlight the very evident humor of the play.

Director of the WSU edition, Adam Zahler was nice enough to anser a few questions about the production. When simply asked, “Why should people come see this play?” He cheerfully responded, “Well first of all, because it’s got a fabulous cast of student actors. They’re all wonderful. They’re all at different stages of their college careers, which means they’re at different stages of their acting careers and in learning about it, but they’re doing just a remarkable job. So that’s the first thing… It’s funny, and that’s another good thing. It’s always nice to go to a comedy and come away with a little more than just a laugh and this one’s got a lot more than just a laugh to it. But it’s also funny and there’s a kind of satisfying gentleness to it that makes it really sweet.”

For those of you captivated by the idea of going to see this play there is also a blog where you can read a series of short interviews with each of the cast members and keep yourself up to date with all of the happenings in the Theater Department found at

The cast of Dead Man’s Cell Phone is Christine Begin (Jean), Joe Aliberti (Gordon), Tasha Matthews (Mrs. Gottlieb), Kelsey Govoni (Hermia), Matthew Cunsolo (Dwight), and Sara Penniman (The Other Woman/The Stranger).

Performances of Dead Man’s Cell Phone are April 19, 20, and 21 at 8:00 p.m. and April 22 at 2:00 p.m at Fuller Theater in the Helen Shaughnessey Administration Building at Worcester State University.  Tickets are $7.00 students, $10.00 seniors, and $14.00 general admission.


For reservations and information call 508-929-8843.              


Editor’s note: This preview was written by a cast member of the production but is still a fair synopsis of the upcoming performance. 

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