After break ups, people usually say success is the best revenge. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Katie Holmes and her Broadway “Dead Accounts”. With only 44 regular shows and 27 previews, where is the Joey from Dawson’s Creek everyone loved?
The play received mixed reviews from critics only made 25% of its expected takings. It had the lowest attendance of any show in Broadway even if it was top billed by the Katie Holmes. She maybe Tom Cruise’s ex-wife and paparazzi magnet Suri’s mother but she wasn’t much of a hit during the show’s run on Broadway. Sadly, there were more paps than audience members during the entire run of the show.
Dead Accounts was written by Theresa Rebeck. She also wrote “Seminar” and “Mauritius”. Her recent play is very close to her heart as she is from Cincinnati herself. Small town values are very close to her heart and it came out naturally in her play. She is also known as the producer of the hit television show “Smash” that stars American Idol alum Katharine McPhee. She is slowly becoming a Broadway regular with her satires with witty lines. She is said to be the woman version of David Mamet, a playwright who producers seem to experiment with even if his plays are a bit… off.
The play is about a woman living in Cincinnati when her brother comes back to crazy up their lives again. Lorna, played by Ms. Holmes, was left in the small town to take care of their parents. The acting was too much but showed little enthusiasm towards it. She must have figured out that it was going to be a flop. She did a good prediction but her acting won’t be recognized anywhere but at some awards show that distinguishes the worst of the year.
The modern day prodigal son and brother, Jack, is played by Tony award winning actor Norbert Leo Butz. He comes home after working in the Big Apple after wiring in money from dead people’s accounts to his. He was wearing a fresh Armani suit and all that east coast swag. He was a character of a playwriting impulse. He was all over the place with his complains about New York. All the characters of the play were centred him with his unending ranting and eating.
It was kind of odd how their father was mentioned but not shown in the entire play. He was said to have an ailment and he couldn’t get up from his bed. Or was he too embarrassed of the flop that was going to happen? Their mother, played by Jayne Houdyshell, was present but only as Jack’s audience like his sister played by Ms. Holmes. His childhood friend, Phil, was also mentioned and appeared a few times. You might notice how Jack is always chewing on something or eating a slice of pizza. He munches instead of explains why he is home without his wife or if he still has a job. You may also say he is on some kind of narcotics. If that is true, that explains where all the eating is coming from. He easily became the center of attention. He had a lot of quips about everything and anything even about the trees outside of their home.
Mr. Butz shady character has a lot of secrets and it is exposed at the end of the first act. An all dressed up woman played by Judy Greer suddenly appears on their door step. The revelation of him stealing money is showing how Jenny, his soon-to-be ex wife, is greedy. This could be given highlight by having a horror movie sound effect but to no avail, did not happen. It also felt like it was copied from a popular sitcom that had a good long run on television. It started the chain of anticlimaxes shown all throughout the play.
The show is a mix of rom-com and typical family drama. You might wonder what it really is about. There is too much changing in the flow and makes the scene evaporate instead of having a great climax. Deciding which is which may not be worth the thinking time. There is no particular tone on what the theme or what is the main idea of the play but it shows how materialistic and superficial the society is today. Each plot was incoherent and lifeless. However, the good thing about is how natural the conversations were. It felt like they were really a family with real conversations that go in a home. There was a lot of compare and contrast on how life was in New York and how it was in a small town like Cincinnati.
The show leaves the audience questioning if the characters are meant to be joked about or to emphasize for. It shows the realities of living in a small town after having a whiff of a big, busy city like New York. How a city can change a man and his dreams. Dead Accounts is a great disappointment for Ms. Rebeck’s work. It was too much of a cliché and it was not even a fresh take for a prodigal son story. It showed a debate on believing in the power of God versus the power of money.
Even with real hometown values and familiar conversations, Dead Accounts didn’t feel like it was real. It practically became a hate mail for New York, a city that is well-loved by its inhabitants and almost 47 million visitors. It does talk about modern ethics of life but was consumed by the complaining done by the prodigal son. Jack seemed bitter of what his life was there but still wasn’t relieved he was home with his family. He has a lot of negative things to say about New York, even complaining about the lack of women there is and the number of trees there are. Rebeck seemed ungrateful of what New York has given her Broadway shows and even her TV series Smash. It would’ve been great if each character shone but only one did.
This review was written by Josephine Heller (firstname.lastname@example.org). When she’s not writing about Broadway shows and New York nightlife, she’s busy running The Wedding Planner’s Book, running after her Russell Terrier, and running around with her 2 children (that’s a lot of running!). She lives in Manhattan.