I recently saw Dead Accounts on Broadway starring Katie Holmes, Norbert Leo Butz, and Judy Greer. Although I've heard mixed reviews from my colleagues, I really liked it. It is a play with a rather intimate setting featuring only five characters throughout the entire show.
Dead Accounts is the story of a brother, a sister, and a surprise reunionthat turns their family upside down. A $27 million secret proves thatthe truth can be complicated.
The reunion takes place in Jack (Butz) and Lorna's (Holmes) parents' home in Cincinnati, Ohio. As one who grew up in the Midwest, it was interesting to hear what jokes/stereotypes they had about it including cheap china, linoleum floors, drab, unstylish wardrobes, boxed wine, inexpensive food, unexpectedly good ice cream. and lots of grass and trees.
Two-time TONY Award winner Norbert Leo Butz clearly steals the show in Dead Accounts because he is simply amazing, but I think overall it is a strong cast. While one of my colleagues didn't think Holmes was that into it, I thought she was very good and a good fit for the part. There is a scene where Lorna grabs the home wireless phone, but when she did during the
show I went to, the battery cover accidentally fell off. She was able to improvise and quickly work snapping the cover back onto the phone into the aggressive tone of voice as she was in the middle of dialog. Additionally, after reading The New York Times review of Dead Accounts, I like K
atie Holmes even more. She seems humble and down to earth. I didn't know she is originally from the Midwest too. Despite being a famous actress, I think she's actually shy and self-conscious.
Not only did I enjoy that the play takes place in the Midwest, I also liked the plot. Dead Accounts is the kind of play
that you continue to think about after the show is over. I've seen so many feel-good shows in which the protagonist lives happily ever after, so it was a little refreshing to see something that was more realistic and open-ended. Dead Accounts also leaves the audience to ponder over big life issues such religion, relationships, morality, and mortality.
There are a few parallels between Jack and my life which made me enjoy Dead Accounts even more. Jack moved to NYC and launched his career. When he comes back home (temporarily or indefinitely, we don't know) he appreciates all of the things the Midwest offers–like fresh air, space, and greenery–but he still can't help telling his friend about all the fun things to do in the city like Broadway shows and posh restaurants.
The religion aspect of the show didn't resonate with me, but I do have a lot of friends from home whose parents are strong Catholics. Lastly, and what made me think about the most afterward, the question of one's happiness. Does money make us happy? Family? Religion? Morals? Relationships? When is enough enough? Will/can we ever be fully satisfied?
Playwright, Therea Rebeck digs in a bit deeper about the issues Dead Accounts stirs up. She says, “”There is a sense [from Midwesterners] that the East Coast has lost its moral center…Meanwhile, the East Coast cannot believe how stupid the center of the country seems to have gotten”” (Broadway.com).
Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes are both great in Dead Accounts. I recommend it if you're looking for a show with more depth. It is definitely worth seeing, especially if you're a Midwestern transplant like myself (and Butz, and Holmes, and Greer).