Cell (Klass)

by  Judy Klass

Full Length Play, Drama  /  4m, 2f

"Cell is the best new play I have presented since the Mystery Festival began. It is also very 'produceable' with great leading roles, small cast and a simple set – a producer's dream!" –Zev Buffman, President and CEO of RiverPark Center, creator of the International Mystery Writers' Festival

Read more +

Cell (Klass)

by  Judy Klass

License Estimator

Use this tool for cost estimates based on your specific needs.

  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 2f
  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre


  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

Cell is a murder mystery - to about the same extent that Sophocles' Oedipus Rex is a murder mystery.  It is not a dinner theater kind of cozy murder mystery; it is a drama, with some humor, about brothers, one a Gen Xer and one a Baby Boomer, and the whodunit aspect is part of the painful war of wills and the cat and mouse game between them.  Lieutenant Rodriguez questions Dennis Kadman about his older brother Michael, who has OD'd on heroin in Dennis' apartment. Dennis wants to know: who gave Michael the drugs? Michael was a cunning, manipulative addict. But he was placed in his brother's care by the courts – and Dennis tried to keep him alive and drug-free. Through flashbacks, we see the fractious relationship between the brothers, and how they interacted with other "suspects," including Edith, the Jamaican nurse who believed Michael should be allowed to choose to die; Julie, Dennis' fiancée who hated what Michael was doing to Dennis and to their relationship; and Byron, Michael's homeless friend with whom he had lived on the streets. Like Oedipus, while looking for the culprit, Dennis learns far too much about himself.
Read more +


  • Nominee! 2009 Edgar Award for Best Play


"These days, when far too many authors of mystery and suspense give us cardboard characters in contrived situations and avoid anything with a social conscience, Judy Klass's Cell gives us believable dialogue about two brothers who are struggling with their own shortcomings and the social injustices that surround them–characters who live and breathe, needle and provoke, and who truly get under your skin. –Kenneth Wishnia, Judge, Best Play 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, Edgar-nominated author of The Fifth Servant

"Cell by Judy Klass is so much more than a taut mystery play. It is both reminiscent of Agatha Christie's whodunits and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's use of magical realism to capture characters, time, and place. Ms. Klass tells us at the play's beginning that her main character, Michael, has been murdered. Her taut and spellbinding play keeps its audience at the edge of their seats, guessing, waiting for the explosive ending." –Woodie King Jr., Producing Director, New Federal Theatre

"Cell is the best new play I have presented since the Mystery Festival began. It is also very 'produceable' with great leading roles, small cast and a simple set – a producer's dream!" –Zev Buffman, President and CEO of RiverPark Center, creator of the International Mystery Writers' Festival


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol
  • Caution Drugs Drugs
  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $100 per performance



  • Time Period: Contemporary, Present Day, New Millennium/21st Century
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: There are two "sets" on stage throughout the play: the main room of Dennis Kadman's NYC apartment, where his brother Michael is housed, during the flashback scenes, and the police station office of Lt. Rodriguez.  Both can be elaborately represented -- or minimally represented, with actions like opening a window conveyed through mime.  In Act One, lights come up and down on the two spaces, for different scenes.  In Act Two, Dennis at times moves from one space to the other while both are lit.  There is one scene in which Dennis and Julie take a walk along a city street -- which can simply be the front portion of the stage.
  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)


4m, 2f
DENNIS – A trim, nicely dressed white man in his late thirties/early forties. Dennis is reasonable and pleasant, but he tries a little too hard.
RODRIGUEZ – A Latino police detective, thirties or forties, with a laid-back manner who nevertheless watches a suspect, such as Dennis, carefully, and invites him to talk himself into a corner.
MICHAEL – Dennis' older brother, in his late forties/early fifties. He is overweight, and both of his legs have been amputated because of his diabetes. His back hurts; he is in constant pain. A sardonic, brilliant, unfixably broken person. At times he is amused, at times bored; he is always tired, angry and bitter. (Please note: the actor playing this role need not be an amputee, amputation can be 'implied' by the designer.)
EDITH – A nurse who has known many patients and families in their private hells for several decades. A strong, kind, black Jamaican woman in her forties or fifties.
JULIE – A few years younger than Dennis, from a background similar to his, protective of him, wary of Michael.
BYRON – A black man around Michael's age. Like Michael, he is angry and bitter, and equally annoyed by pampered people like Dennis.
See all +

Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Multicultural casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)



Judy Klass

Judy Klass has seen over twenty of of her one-act plays produced since the 1990s, all over the country. Her full-length plays Transatlantic and Damage Control have been produced in multiple productions in New York City.  Her unproduced full-length play Stop Me If You've Heard ...

View full profile

CELL premiered in the International Mystery Writers' Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky in June of 2008.  The production was directed by Kelley Elder.

Now Playing

Community Experiences