There is something wonderful in the dancing cadences of Sarah Ruhl's The Dead Man's Cell Phone: the way its madcap scenes chase each other like bits of the author's associative thought process. The tale follows Jean, a shy and needy woman who one day finds herself seated next to a dead man in her neighborhood café. She answers the man's phone and is off on an improbable journey, trying to make sense of his (deeply amoral) life to his lovers, family, and shadowy underworld business associates. As always, Ruhl's characters are a little too weird to be real — too vibrant, too colorful, and too perverse — and for the most part, we should be grateful for the chance to look at anything so interesting for an hour or two. The exception is Jean, our meddling protagonist, whose neediness and devil-may-care attitude to others' privacy makes her almost unwatchable. Almost.
The Weir was Conor McPherson's breakthrough play, and to realize that while watching it could restore your faith in humanity (or at least in "the humanities"). Because The Weir is challenging: It has no real message, no cogent theme, and its story is skeletal. What story there is involves a bunch of Irish louts in a tavern, sharing ghost stories with the town's newest resident (and the play's lone female). The story is just a setup for the story-telling; the drama lies in watching the good time yarn-spinning transformed into soul-quaking catharsis. When it happens, souls will quake, thanks to an almost perfect cast and the almost magically introspective atmosphere that settles over Palm Beach Dramaworks' little auditorium.
As the title of this crowd-pleasing exhibition indicates, the pairing is a natural. But this is the first time the work of these two 20th-century titans has been presented side by side. It includes more than 40 O'Keeffe paintings and more than 50 Adams photographs, covering the scope of their careers but emphasizing comparisons and contrasts of works completed in the desert Southwest, where both traveled extensively and where O'Keeffe eventually settled for much of her long life. Some of the show's juxtapositions are startling — slightly different views of the same subjects, for instance, or uncannily similar takes on very different subjects, captured by two virtuosos of their respective media. It's an extraordinary, not-to-be-missed exhibition.
The Dead Man's Cell Phone, through March 22 at the Mosaic Theatre, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation. Call 954-577-8243, or visit mosaictheatre.com.
The Weir, through April 5 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-514-4042, or visit palmbeachdramaworks.org.
"Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities," through May 3 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.
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