Dead Man's Cell Phone

“When something rings, you have to answer it. Don't you?” pleads Jean (Jessica Taylor), the mousy, bespectacled protagonist of the QC Theatre Workshop's wildly imaginative production of Dead Man's Cell Phone. This Sarah Ruhl play serves as a commentary on how modern technology both isolates us and connects us. Or at least, that's what Wikipedia would like us to believe … .

The first thing I noticed as I walked into Thursday's stunning, powerful, opening-night performance of the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's Cabaret was the temperature. As I glanced around looking for meat hooks, I realized that many of the theatre's more seasoned attendees had brought along sweaters, coats, and even blankets. But the chill in the air gave no indication of the show's eventual heat.

At Friday night's final dress rehearsal of Genesius Guild's As You Like It, there were instances in which performers were forced to overcome numerous distractions from around the park. The distant sounds of children on the playground, a flock of birds singing their twilight song, an occasional motorcycle passing by … even the noise of a rushing freight train from the bottom of the hill.

One could make the case that these distractions would lessen the overall enjoyability of this Shakespeare production. But I found the opposite to be the case, for they reminded me that this is public theatre at its finest – an opportunity for all to come and enjoy classical theatre no matter the emptiness of their pockets (though donations are gratefully accepted), and even if performed in the sweltering mid-June heat, by actors with true love for and dedication to the art.

Marijuana is an “unspeakable scourge,” warns The Lecturer (played by an augmentedly-bearded Andy Curtiss) at the start of the QC Theatre Workshop's hilarious production of Reefer Madness. A scourge, warns the man, that's “turning all our children into hooligans and whores!”

“Four cities, four past romances, four stories to be told (four nearly identical hotel rooms).” That's the premise behind the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Barn Owl presentation of Neil LaBute's Some Girl(s), and alternating between the emotionally draining, bitingly funny, viciously cynical, and surprisingly engaging, the comedy/drama might best be described as a how-to manual on how not to make amends with your past relationships.

So much has been said about Pat Flaherty's performances over the years that I hesitate to add more here for fear of being accused of plagiarism. Suffice it to say Flaherty has brought a smile to my face in everything I have ever seen him act in, and his portrayal in Sleuth was certainly no exception.