Onstage: Dead Man's Cell Phone

The Ensemble Theatre launches the regional premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, an imaginative and dark comedy about a woman who answers a dead man’s phone and finds her life turned upside down. Other works by Ruhl, who has a unique perspectiv

Something exciting is happening in local theater: Actors you have long appreciated onstage with one particular theater company are finding their way to other stages, and that “cross-pollination” is making for even greater local theater. Our pool of local actors is growing and maturing, and our many fine theaters are drawing the best from that set. A great example opens this week at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC), which opens on Wednesday the regional premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, an imaginative and dark comedy about a woman who answers a dead man’s phone and finds her life turned upside down.

In the central role is Annie Fitzpatrick, an ETC regular and 2009 CEA winner for Mauritius. Nick Rose plays the dead man; he’s a founder of Cincinnati Shakespeare who’s been recognized with CEA nominations for several classic roles, not to mention a win for the title role in New Stage Collective’s raucous 2008 production of Jerry Springer: The Opera. Kate Wilford, who has performed in several ETC productions, picked up her own 2009 CEA for her work in New Edgecliff Theatre’s staging of Death of a Salesman. Brian Isaac Phillips, Cincinnati Shakespeare’s current artistic director, is back on ETC’s stage, too, having picked up a recent CEA nominated for his work in The Seafarer. The cast also includes two other excellent performers, k. Jenny Jones and Morgan Grahame.

ETC made a smart move not only with its casting but also by staging Ruhl’s 2008 script in close proximity to the Cincinnati Playhouse’s production of her new adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, opening later this month. Other works by Ruhl, who has a unique perspective and a comic voice, have been well received on local stages including The Clean House (Playhouse, 2007) and Eurydice (Know Theatre, 2009). ETC’s Cell Phone is another chance for Cincinnati audiences to see the work of one of America’s most acclaimed young playwrights. The show continues through Oct. 25. $16-$40. 

Read Tom McElfresh's review and find tickets, showtimes and nearby bars and restaurants here

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