By: Bonnie Goldberg

    Cell phones define us:  they are necessary appendages that protrude from our fingers or blue tooth from our ears.  What would we be if we couldn’t text message, access the Internet or snap a shot of the latest crime scene?  Instant retrieval of information like stock quotes and movie tracks are but a push button away  Ringtones can be baseball songs, opera arias or train whistles.  The possibilities are endless.

    What might you do , however, if you were sitting in a cafe, deep in thought, drinking a cup of coffee and the cell phone of the man at the next table started ringing?  Ignore it, probably.  Unless, the incessant discord continued and the man, oblivious, did not have the courtesy to turn it off or even pick it up.  Might you extort your fellow patron, even raise your voice with annoyance, when the cell phone continued to ring and continued to be ignored.

    Would your attitude change when you suddenly realize the stranger was not deaf but dead?  for Jean (Finnerty Steeves), the decision is easy.  First answer his phone and then call 911.  Jean learns that the deceased is Gordon (Craig Wroe), not the nicest of men when he was breathing and, now, dead, an intriguing mystery.

    Experience Sarah Ruhl’s new comedy “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” currently ringing up laughter at Hartford TheaterWorks until Sunday, March 15, under the tight and taut direction of Rob Ruggiero.

    Jean is a fixer, a do-gooder, who quickly finds herself deeply involved in Gordon’s life, giving gifts and solace to his mother (Anne-Lynn Kettles), his widow (Lee Heinz) and his brother (Mark Shanahan).  She even gets swept into his questionable business dealings with his partner (Joey Parsons).  Her well meaning gestures are almost lethal.

    For tickets ($37-47-58), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. ; Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.  Come early or stay late to experience the new Gallery of American Art featuring works from the New Britain Museum of American Art as well as wine and food from bin228 Cafe and Wine Bar, all on the premises.  The current exhibition is “Pulp Art:  The Robert Lesser Collection,” two-dozen paintings of twentieth century “pulp fiction” exploitation novels.

    Recharge your batteries and catch the energy of this weirdly involving story that starts so innocently when a cell phone rings.  Please remember to silence yours during the show.

This will appear in the Middletown Press on Feb. 19.

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