Profile Theatre's production of Dead Man's Cell Phone begins with a familiar scene: two strangers sitting separately at a cafe, and neither will turn off their damn cellphone. Our protagonist, Jean, angrily requests that a stationary businessman named Gordon silence his ringer. But he can't, because he's dead. Under the direction of Adriana Baer, the play slowly unfolds into a world where it seems normal that the afterlife is set in a laundromat. Jean takes possession of the dead man's phone and eventually meets Gordon's family—a group that drinks bourbon upside down to cure hiccups—and learns more about his mysterious business. But she can't silence the damn phone. And she always answers it, even in the middle of a make-out session or a hilariously over-the-top gunfight. This is, of course, a commentary on our relationship to technology—which playwright Sarah Ruhl is very sure to cement into the audience's head. Dana Millican portrays Jean with just the right mix of bewilderment and kindness, even amid the character's bald-faced lying, while Don Kenneth Mason offers a perfect Cheshire Cat smile as the selfish businessman. The ensemble cast dances across the stage every chance it gets while moving the stage sets, moonwalking to the gloriously cheesy elevator music that plays between scenes. The entire play exudes a Wes Anderson-style whimsy, and despite some slower moments—an extended scene in an alternate reality could have been abbreviated—Dead Man's Cell Phone creates two hours when audiences should be happy to turn off their phones.
SEE IT: Dead Man's Cell Phone is at Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St., 242-0080. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays through Feb. 15. $15-$32.