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Book Report: Dead Man's Cell Phone

  • Date Submitted: 10/17/2013 04:52 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 67.1 
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Your Humble Blogger had picked up The Clean House and Other Plays by Sarah Ruhl, largely because it came to hand on the shelf, but also because I had read reviews and comments about her other plays. That included a remarkable essay on her play Dead Man’s Cell Phone that I think I read in the local paper when the play was produced here, although I don’t exactly remember now, and it appears to have originally been for the Los Angeles Times. Or not. I don’t honestly remember the sequence of events.

Anyway, I took our The Clean House and other Plays, and I let it sit around for a while, and then I read The Clean House, which is a really remarkable play. I mean, there are plays that I read that I think this is why I like theater. One of those plays that would not work on film, or as a novel, or on the radio, a play that makes use of the stage and the presence of the actors and the audience. I haven’t written up a Book Report because I haven’t read all the Other Plays. And then I saw Dead Man’s Cell Phone on the shelf at the other library, the one that only lets me have New Books for seven days, so I skipped ahead and read that.

It seems like a good play, and there are bits of it that might work very well, but it isn’t anything close to as walloping as The Clean House. It went over the top, here and there, which was a Good Thing, but somehow the admixture of banality and extremity didn’t knock me out the way it did in the other play. I’m glad I read them in the order I did; I’m very much looking forward to reading (or possibly someday seeing) her newest play, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), which deals with sexuality and technology from a very different perspective, it seems.


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