Theater review: ‘Dead Accounts’

Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes star in “Dead Accounts.”

Norbert Leo Butz easily steals the show with his turn in “Dead Accounts,” a dark comedy that follows his character’s sudden return from NYC to the Midwest — an appearance shrouded in mystery, wads of cash and a rumpled Armani suit. His character, Jack, is high-strung and neurotic, desperately putting forth grandiose insights about life as would a man who’s just been revived from the brink of death — or one who’s still in the process of staving it off.

Most of the other actors have subtle, supporting roles, but they play them with a quiet conviction that’s much-needed to balance Jack’s anxious energy. Several scenes are devised so that the characters who aren’t speaking are the ones saying the most — and times when everyone’s talking seem to reveal the least. Katie Holmes returns to Broadway in the second-most pivotal position as Lorna. She is Jack’s opposite, a mousy younger sister who still lives with their parents and espouses old-fashioned values that Jack has seemingly abandoned — like honesty and faith. Holmes is endearing as always, although it’s hard to say almost any actress couldn’t do as much of the same with the part — which also goes for Jack’s wife, Jenny, played with warmth but not depth by Judy Greer. Director Jack O’Brien, however, would have been hard-pressed to fill the stage with any presence that could pull the focus from the bustling, hustling Butz.

Playwright Theresa Rebeck creates entertaining and quick-paced dialogue, but one aspect that falls a little short is the momentum of the plot. A big reveal comes right before intermission, but it takes getting there to finally step into the play’s heart. A series of twists and turns follows in Act II, dissecting the key players as we also watch them grow like the overtly symbolic oaks and elms in the space beyond the deck outside of this conflicted childhood home.

Some may find that the resolutions — the few that exist — aren’t quite worth the windup; however, they might come to realize, like Jack, that not everything that has value in life is about the payoff.

If you go

   

‘Dead Accounts’

Through Feb. 24, 2013

The Music Box Theatre,

239 W. 45th St., $67-$147,

www.deadaccountsonbroadway.com


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