Pittsburgh Playhouse Opens Streaming of ‘Polaroid Stories’ and ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’ (Wed., 3/10/21)

POLAROID STORIES  by Naomi Iizuka. Pittsburgh Playhouse (Point Park Conservatory), streams on demand March 10-14.

Polaroid Stories is not about Edwin Land, inventor of the instant camera. It’s a play in which Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and mad excess, is reincarnated as a modern drug dealer in the slums. Despite his seedy trade, he’s also a sort of father figure to the desperate young people who frequent his realm. They include Orpheus and Eurydice, young lovers with a crazy relationship; Narcissus, trapped in self-absorbed perplexity, and a skinhead couple, none of whom are helped much by the insufferably pompous Zeus. Polaroid Stories is a 1997 play from L.A.-based playwright Naomi Iizuka, who often but not always uses classical themes for contemporary stories. Iizuka’s Good Kids, inspired by news reports about the social-media frenzy that followed a rape case at a high school, was staged in Pittsburgh a few years ago. But Polaroid Stories remains one of her most popular plays, and Point Park Conservatory Theatre streams an online production with pay-what-you-can tix at $5 to $15 for a two-day viewing rental. (M.V.)

DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE by Sarah Ruhl. Pittsburgh Playhouse (Point Park Conservatory), streams on demand March 10-14.

You’re trying to enjoy lunch in a cafe. A man at a nearby table has a constantly ringing cell phone that he will not answer. Irked, you stride over to him, and learn why he isn’t picking up: He is dead. Do you take the incoming call? In the Sarah Ruhl play Dead Man’s Cell Phone, the person facing this quandary is an earnest young woman. Out of duty to the deceased, she takes the call and even keeps the phone, figuring she might help to straighten out the poor man’s affairs. Little does she suspect how crooked and convoluted they are. If you’ve caught other plays by Ruhl—like Orlando and In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play—you will know to expect a serious theme wrapped in layers of surreal hilarity. Point Park Conservatory Theatre streams Dead Man’s Cell Phone in a version you can watch on your phone. Or on someone else’s. (M.V.)

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Mike Vargo

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