The brand new Absolute Theatre got out of the blocks last month with a stellar “Frost/Nixon” for its first-ever production.
What to do for an encore?
Eric Decker is positive he has the answer: “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” a comic drama by Sarah Ruhl, which opens Nov. 17 at STEM Academy.
“There’s the potential for the audience to go ‘Ah!’” said Decker, who is directing the play. “I think it will really show what is possible with theater and storytelling.”
Decker said he was attracted to he play by the writing of Ruhl.
“She is one of the best playwrights in America right now,” he said. Decker saw this particular play in Denver and Chicago. In Rochester, the Rochester Repertory Theatre produced a Ruhl play (“The Clean House”) a few years ago. “I think we’re ready for more,” Decker said.
In the play, a woman picks up the ringing cell phone of a man she assumes is asleep. Turns out he’s dead. But the woman ends up having phone conversations with the man’s estranged wife, his mother, a mistress and a brother.
“It’s a satire, it’s hilarious, but there’s no wink-wink at the audience,” Decker said.
In casting the show, Decker said, he was looking for actors willing to go deep into their characters.
“Rehearsals have been more table talk,” he said. “We go down to line and word discussions.” At this point, he said, “The actors know their characters so well.”
In the cast are Lisa Modry, Janice Hobbs, Renae Sander, Bryn Curry, Patricia Barrier, Randy Wilson and Bill Schnell.
Without giving too much away, Decker promised some “visually stunning” effects in the production. “There are two moments we are spending a lot of time constructing, that I think people will remember 20 years from now,” he said.
Until then, though, Absolute and its audience can bask in the warm glow still emitting from “Frost/Nixon.”
“It was more than we had hoped for,” Decker said. “When we started our dream of a theater, there was always that element of was there a missing need in the community, or was it just our own desire.”
With attendance that exceeded the goal by 32 percent for “Frost/Nixon,” Absolute might have the answer.