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Review: Call Me

By Jane Durrell · May 30th, 2009 · Fringe
Hmm. Shall we discuss the theatrical arc of this play? The dramatic tension inherent in its subject matter? The actors’ intuitive grasp of their roles? Or shall we throw all that out and just say Call Me will give you a good time in a short time, leaving you open for other Fringe fun?

The production is an ingenious concoction that uses a staple of 21st-century life, your very own cell phone, to make theater on the streets of Over-the-Rhine and in your head. The drama, as it happens, is taking place in 1949, when World War II was over and film noir was a big draw in the movie houses — but cell phones weren't even a glint in a scientist’s eye. With your phone in hand, you’ll take part in what seems to be a living (as opposed to film) noir experience.

You begin whenever you wish, within the production’s announced hours, and should finish up in 40 minutes or so. The action starts at the Jackson Street Underground (1120 Jackson St.), the lower level of Know Theatre.

I experienced Call Me by myself, which was fine, but I think it would be more fun to do it with a friend or even friends.

Three is probably the limit, though, for the frothy happening to work well.

You will be given a card on which several phone numbers need to be recorded. Then you will meet a cigarette girl (that puts you in the time frame) who gives you the business card of a private detective “probably the best in the city.” (Private detective? Who needs him? You might. Or at least you might want — fervently — to get in touch with him.) Alas, you just miss meeting up with him, but there are numbers to call and hints to follow. If you're careless about the hints (as I was), you can always go back to Jackson Street Underground and the nice young woman who took your ticket and gave you instructions will be understanding. And helpful.

Billed as “A Personal Cell Phone Play in 7 Calls,” Call Me is produced by DIY Productions, which last year gave the Fringe another multi-site, tech-savvy production called Inner: City. This year’s entry is tighter, sharper and more successful.

Show creators include visual artist Kate Kern, theater director and performer Regina Pugh and writer and producer Kristin Dietsche. Like Body Language II: Phys. Ed. (see my review here), this show is a theatrical venture that ordinary theater would have trouble accommodating. Fringe gives us off-the-wall, new ideas of creating theater and should be valued for it.

Performed at Know Theatre Underground through June 6. See performance dates and preview here.



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