Dead men tell no lies

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Theatre: ‘Dark comedy’ opens Friday night at LALT

By Jennifer Garcia

Technology has allowed humans to interact in different ways. It’s not uncommon for friends that live on opposite ends of the U.S. to get on Facebook and chat as a way to stay in touch.
Meeting new, different people is not beyond the realm of possibilities these days and even though they may never meet face-to-face, that doesn’t stop folks from socializing via social media. Cell phones have also opened up communication, by allowing texts to be sent in seconds, replacing phone calls because they are quicker and can be sent when phone conversations are not possible.
What would happen, though, if you found a stranger’s cell phone one day and decided to start conversations with the people calling that phone? That’s exactly what Jean (Kate Ramsey) does in “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” presented by Los Alamos Little Theatre.
Though Jean has never owned a cell phone, she decides to answer Gordon’s phone, once she realizes that he has died in the café, where she is enjoying some soup. As a result of her curiosity, she encounters some interesting characters along the way. She also starts to imagine what Gordon was like and dreams up a personality for him. Not only does Jean meet Gordon’s family, but she also meets his mistress.
As she continues to delve into Gordon’s life, Jean also ponders the effect of cell phones on society. She wonders whether they bring people closer, or whether they push them apart. Eventually, the cell phone helps Jean move on to the next chapter in her life — one that she does not find disappointing.
Ramsey, a LALT veteran and the lead role in LALT’s opening production, said she’s been preparing for the role of Jean for about three months. She chose to audition for this particular production because she read the script and laughed out loud.
“The characters are so outrageous and the story is so bizarre, that I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to give it a shot,” she said.
She said finding Gordon’s cell phone opens up Jean’s life.
“She does and tries things she would have never thought to do before and the most interesting part, (is that) no one really pushes her to do this. She finds the will in herself.”
Ramsey believes that this LALT production will be different from others because the cast is small, featuring only five people: Ramsey, Eric Bjorklund, Claire Davis, Jeanne Adkins and Pat Beck.
“Some are experienced actors, while others are relatively new to the stage. Jeanne Adkins and Claire Davis has acted with LALT for about a year, now and to see how they have just attached themselves to performing is wonderful,” Ramsey said.
 She also said that the most difficult part of preparing for her role was “digging into her character and figuring out what Jean is all about. Jean is the woman who can mistakenly be taken for just being there to give the more exciting characters someone to talk to, but there’s much more depth to her.”
Despite the difficulty in preparing for the role, Ramsey said she has enjoyed working with the other actors and “never knowing what new things they are going to come up with. Every rehearsal, something fresh happens that just makes the show even more hilarious. I can only imagine what things will come up during the actual performance,” she said.
Director Gwen Lewis saw “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at the Santa Fe Playhouse and laughed so hard, she cried.
“I knew then I had to direct it,” she said. “Audiences can expect an unusual way of addressing the disconnect people have toward each other because of cell phones and how one woman tries to make sense of it.”
Lewis describes the production as a “black comedy, with a lot of slapstick in it. It is light-hearted, but does have moments of darkness intertwined throughout the show.”
Lewis said she spent about a year preparing for the play, before she presented it to the LALT Board for production.
For Lewis, the most difficult aspect of preparing for the show had to do with technical issues.
“The theatre has been getting a new stage and lighting (and) sound systems during my show,” she said.
Despite her obstacles, Lewis said she looked forward to finding out who would be cast in her play.
“When you have a great cast, directing is a piece of cake. I got a fantastic cast,” she said.
“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday and at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28-29, Oct. 5-6. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and are available at CB Fox or at the door.
The production is for mature audiences because of its PG-13 rating and the adult language and themes throughout the show. However, mature high school students might also enjoy it.
For more information, visit lalt.org, email contact2009@lalt.org or call 662-5493.