"It's a crazy wild ride," says actor Carolyn Pool, just a couple of days before the opening of Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone at Park Square Theatre. Pool stars as Jean, a woman whose life is thrown into an unexpected adventure when she picks up (you guessed it) the ringing cell phone belonging to a man who has died next to her in a cafe.
"Ruhl writes in this sort of magical realism, a whimsical place," Pool adds. "But she's also really not super-precious about it, which is great."
Ruhl's work is familiar to local audiences via a 2008 production of her Euridice
at Ten Thousand Things
, as well as a 2007 version of The Clean House
at Mixed Blood
. Both were very good, and managed to evince a great deal of the playwright's range while conveying her capacity for extracting profound emotion from unconventional storytelling.
"The engaged theatergoer is going to really love it," Pool says. "It requires that you kind of climb in and hang on. It's not the kind of show where you can just sit back and not get involved--and it moves really quickly."
In tackling the role of a woman whose life changes by happenstance, Pool found herself moving into relatively uncharted territory.
"I'm used to playing characters that drive the action," she says. "She's not one of those people. She's much more reactive than I'm used to playing--she starts out as a passenger rather than a driver."
Pool's presence on a playbill in recent years almost always suggests an intriguing performance; her work possesses a sly, knowing edge. And while she has played a succession of strong characters, it'll be fascinating to watch her find the contours of a character buffeted by chance.
And while you're going to be hard pressed to find anyone involved in a theater production admitting much in the way of doubt just before opening day (at least to a critic), Pool sounds convincingly charged up and eager.
"I've rarely felt so happy going in," she says about the prospects of opening night. With a quick, hearty laugh, she adds, "Which is unusual for me."