Ruhl Breaks the Rules in ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’ at Axial Theater


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When a play’s title — “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at Axial Theater — is a dead giveaway to what otherwise could have been a big reveal in the opening scene (that guy sitting slumped in his cafe chair whose phone keeps ringing didn’t doze off, he died off ), you have to wonder what the writer has in mind.

Author Sarah Ruhl has a lot on her fertile mind as she goes about creating her own rules. She is one of today’s most celebrated, cerebral dramatists, lavished with awards and critical praise, a finalist for the Pulitzer and Tony awards, and a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” grant. In other words, unlike the unfortunate man we espy at the play’s outset, it’s safe to say she’s no slouch.

Siobhan McKinley as Jean gets a lift from boyfriend Dwight Gottlieb (Duane Rutter). Photos by Leslye Smith

Neither is the high-minded director, Rachel Jones, who selected this work for the prestigious Axial Theatre, where it runs through Sunday, May 17 (Click here for more info).  Axial is one of an elite group of Hudson Valley theater companies that consistently mount top-quality, tightly disciplined productions that give audiences more than their money’s worth. Continue reading