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      “GOOD TITLE!” by Thomas Putnam

      B6 4Do you remember in the movie SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE the running line throughout: Good Title! It was said by both Shakespeare and by other playwrights when one or the other would state the working title of their current project. Some of the titles were really lame; others arresting.

      I love titles. In fact, I often judge a play by its title. I know, I know...you can't judge a book by its cover, but since the title is usually the first thing I know about a play I just can't help myself. In our Artistic Planning Committee (APC) meetings at which we choose a season of productions, often we hear the words “It's got a catchy title” or “I've never heard of this play, but the title calls to mind something familiar.” Think of our Joe DiPietro play a number of years ago OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS. You may have never heard of the play, but the title is sure familiar and conjures up pleasant visits to see grandmother.

      I was in a play in college called OH, DAD! POOR DAD! MAMA'S HUNG YOU IN THE CLOSET AND I'M SO SAD. I'm not sure what pleasant memories that may conjure but it sure grabs your attention. Or THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN IN THE MOON MARIGOLDS? I'm not stuck on long titles necessarily but I do love THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME.

      Lots of titles are just one word: PROOF. DOUBT. RUMORS. OPAL. MAME. OLIVER. SYLVIA. Others a few more words: THE MAY QUEEN. I'm not sure why, but it grabs my attention. And ELEPHANT'S GRAVEYARD has a whole mysterious almost troublesome attraction.

      So how does DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE work? For me it was the title that got my attention. I knew nothing about it before someone brought it to the APC's attention. I knew Sarah Ruhl, the playwright, and was aware that she often turned conventions upside down and all which ways, but didn't know this play. It's a tough play to categorize and describe. The title reveals that it's contemporary—a fairly new play, and raises a whole lot of questions about why a dead man would need a cell phone? It's a funny play and it's one of those plays that under all that humor is a whole lot to think about. I hope you'll answer the call and see this delightful production.

      [DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE opens tonight. Tickets are available through HGP.booktix.com or calling the HG office at 570.724.2079. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30; Sundays at 2:30.]

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