Review of “Dead Man’s Cellphone”

Photo by Michael Brunk /

He’s dead, sitting at a table in a coffee shop near a woman who had recently savored the last bite of her lobster bisque, the meal the now-dead man came to the shop for, the meal he wanted to enjoy on his birthday. This is the story of a middle aged man, an organ trafficker with an inflated ego, as it turns out, and a woman who finds his deceased body at the shop.

She hears his phone ring, buzzing on the wooden table in front of him, and answers. This is the beginning of a chain of events that intertwine the lives of a man once-living, his family left behind, and a woman nearing the age of 40, Jean, unmarried and with no children of her own who cares perhaps a little too much.
Jean, for some strange reason, immediately develops an attachment to the life left by Gordon, the deceased. She takes on the responsibility of consoling his family members. In the process of keeping his memory alive, she clicks with his brother, Dwight, with whom she later falls in love.

The play is an odyssey packed with unexpected events, twists and turns, themes of love and loss, what felt like inside jokes between one actress and the audience, and questions of mortality and what it means to be alive. The actors grew deep into their characters, convincing and connecting with the audience with their conversations and monologues.

As a result of her unusual love for a stranger she never really met, Jean enters predicaments like no other. “I want to remember everything,” she said, “even other people’s memories.” She is a quirky character, no doubt.

Jean is an employee at a Holocaust museum, but after meeting with Gordon’s family, she claims that she knew Gordon because she worked with him, so as to avoid the awkward truth that she pocketed his phone after he passed. Gordon’s mother asked whether she worked in “outgoing” or “incoming.” At the time, she didn’t know that he had worked as an organ trafficker in the “outgoing” department, connecting customers to their suppliers. Once she found out, she took on the challenge of making well his past mistakes of the exploitation of people desperate for money, and attempts to purchase a kidney for “love” rather than cash, which leads to her temporary demise as the result of a slow-motion gun fight at an airport overseas.

The play gets its audience to think beyond their perspective, proposing that one of the “hells” someone can be sent to when they pass is that which contains only themselves and the person they last loved, which in Jean’s case was Gordon, since she had not yet professed her love for Dwight. Jean ends up snapped back to life, given the chance to see her waking life in a new light. She throws the phone that took her on this ride, calling it “stupid,” and knowing that she has a second chance at loving fully in life.