With Siri and Alexa becoming our new (albeit inanimate) best friends, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”, now in its run at the Odyssey Theatre is both timely and innovative . This millenial and baby boomer oriented show, written by Kevin Armento and directed by Peter Richards, creatively features the narrator (Thomas Piper), a smartphone , accompanied in the background by Foley/Soundscape Designer (Adam Smith). Of note is the high tech, sleek, sophisticated set, designed by Pete Hickok and lighting designer Kelley Finn. The phone recounts endless scenarios of personal conversations via texts, photos, and calls of a teen student Red McCray. While tossed and strewn about in a barrage of places such as his teacher’s desk drawer; plopped on the bed; or stowed away in the car glove compartment, the phone gives its point of view through a very anthropomorphic vantage point . The audience comes to connect with the phone, as almost human, with sensitivities and emotions just like the humans who are daily obsessed with their phones. As smartphones (at least for me) have become an additional limb or digit on our body, we can totally resonate with the narrator feeling almost abandoned by its owner in many a situation revealed onstage. The phone holds many secrets and stories, beneath the surface of its ringtone, and to unlock the password brings missed calls and opportunities to the forefront.
Not only does its hard outer shell get bruised, smashed, but its inner core (ego) ,as well. This play, whose title is a cleverly conceived mathematical/operations mnemonic acronym, sheds light on the fact that we should never take for granted inanimate objects, of the smart, electrical sort, which society today depends upon and cherishes deeply. This show illustrates how technology has taken the world by storm, and the idea that a phone can have feelings, thoughts, and human attributes is one idea that’s been perpetuated in films and books , but not on a live stage, thus far.
The play had shades of the 2013 indie film, “Her,” about a new operating system which develops into a unique and intuitive entity in its own right. This play is a novel concept and I believe this is just the beginning, proving that if phones could talk… they would surely have something profound to say!
Through October 8th
Fridays and Saturdays 8pm
Odyssey Theatre 2055 S. Sepulveda