Skip to content

Dead Man’s Cell Phone

by on 13 October 2022

Mobile and Mobility

Dead Man’s Cell Phone

by Sarah Ruhl

Network Theatre Company at The Network Theatre, Waterloo until 15th October

Review by Heather Moulson

I looked forward to my second visit to this enigmatic venue, tucked away quietly down a tunnel next to Waterloo Station, one of the many secrets of London, with its eighty-three years of thespian history.  I made my way along to see the Network Theatre’s production of Dead Man’s Cell Phone, its title the premise of an original and intriguing story.   

We opened up to a very strong scene set in a café, where a man is slumped dead at one table and Jean, at the next, goes over to answer his phone.   This simple action bonds her for good with the very recently deceased Gordon, making this strong ground for unravelling a very human situation.   

Jean, played by Hannah Dormor, had her work cut out, as she was landed with the dilemma of claiming that she knew Gordon very well.   Jean carried her false pretence to a meeting with his “other woman”, strongly played by Naomi Bowman, and then faced the grim prospect of a meal with Gordon’s mother, wife and brother.  Being too polite to tell them she was actually a vegetarian was a great insight into Jean’s character, and the actor handled the situation very well.   

Searching for clues along the way as to why his family were contemptuous of his occupation, we also got to know the late Gordon.    The manipulative mistrustful steak-eating matriarch was played by Elizabeth Gartside, who worked well with Hermia, Gordon’s widow, a convincing role played by first-time actor, Bianca Monteriro.  We’re waiting for your next role, Bianca.   You were comfortable taking the stage and had a strong presence.   

Gordon’s brother, Dwight, dynamically played by Dan Carter, shared an empathy with the hapless phone finder, and the scenes between them were highly watchable.   Carter having the edge didn’t make it any the less enjoyable.   

The second half featured Gordon’s side of the story, and Alain English came into his own as his tale unravelled.   A strong presence and performance, and his character lamented the lack of lobster bisque in the café where he met his doom.   There was also a frank and well-written scene between the drunken Hermia and Jean.   All souls were laid bare in this first part of Act Two.   

However, a weaker pace followed after the confrontation of Gordon and Jean in a very dark place.  The story still kept us alert but there seemed a potential for an earlier end.    When it actually came, it felt flat. 

An overall stark stage set, it was an intelligent use of space, if slightly too many props.  The background music and sound, designed by Thomas Cheeseman, kept the tension nicely going, and the lighting designer Paul Evans made it aptly moody.  Stunning singing by Gaja Gasiorek, clad in religious white, made a moving focal point.  The director Amalia Kontesi gave us a skilful production.  Written by Sarah Ruhl, I look forward to seeing more of her work.   

Dan Carter came forward at the end of the curtain call, and told us of a forthcoming new play exploring the work of Virginia Woolf and Valerie Solanas.  Please make it soon, Dan. 

Dead Man’s Cell Phone explores how, in our tech-savvy world, we can be equally united and divided by a mobile phone.  Well worth a visit.

Heather Moulson, October 2022

Photography courtesy of Network Theatre Co.

From → Drama

  1. celiabard permalink

    I’d quite forgotten this small theatre tucked away at the end of the long tunnel. Thank you reviewer for reminding me. The last play I saw there was a most imaginative production of The Tempest. I shall endeavour to see more productions at this delightful little theatre.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Reboot Festival | Mark Aspen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: