Friday, November 30, 2012

The Ho-Hum Broadway Season Continues

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
There is one reason to see Theresa Rebeck's Dead Accounts and that is Norbert Leo Butz. But his manic energy has been on display in better plays than this one.

Butz plays Jack, who has just returned home to Cincinnati from New York City to his parents' house. His sister Lorna (Katie Holmes) still lives at home to help her ailing offstage father and her mother (Jayne Houdyshell). Jack is thrilled to be back in the land of Graeter's Ice Cream and Skyline Coneys, but Lorna senses that something is wrong. When we find out what it is, it isn't much of a surprise.

Rebeck seems to be trying to say a lot, but really she doesn't anything, or at least not anything new. People in New York are corrupt? There's nature in the midwest, food is cheaper, and the people are nicer? Yawn. She also hasn't written characters so much as situations, but Butz gives Jack more depth than is on the page. In the dialogue, it's impossible to tell why he ever married his wife Jenny (Judy Greer), but in his scenes with her, you believe his love for her. He and Holmes also have a sweet chemistry, but she hasn't improved much since her Broadway debut in All My Sons. She seems a little more relaxed here and bless her heart she is trying, but she still seems to think that all theater acting is is screaming. Josh Hamilton as Jack's childhood friend Phil, Houdyshell, and Greer are all wasted here as their characters are only there for Jack to have people to play off of.

The play moves quickly and is entertaining to watch (when Butz is on the stage anyway), but Broadway audiences deserve better, or at the very least some Graeter's to snack on during intermission.

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