DEAD ACCOUNTS presented by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park through Feb. 11. You can read the show description here.
Being a born-and-bred Cincinnatian, raised Catholic on the west side in the ’70s, I had high hopes for DEAD ACCOUNTS. Based on the preview articles and interviews posted by the local media, the “love letter” to the midwest that I expected never materialized.
I’m not saying this to be harsh, but overall I found the show to be shallow and emotionally flat. The characters were uninteresting and very stereotypical. If you remove all the Cincinnati references (which ALWAYS generate a laugh) there are few moments in the show that actually speak to Cincinnati.
Let’s start with “golden boy” son Jack. It bothers me that he is not successful due to his own merits (or that midwest work ethic), but simply married into money. Through nepotism, he was handed an executive position at his father-in-law’s bank. After seven years of marriage, and in response to his wife’s decision to divorce him, he commits a major white collar crime and hightailes it home to Cincinnati.
At his childhood home, surrounded by pints of Graeter’s ice cream, Jack is confronted by sister Lorna, one of his five siblings (and the only one we actually meet). Lorna is single and living at home help their mother tend to an ailing father (who to me would be the embodiment of the midwest work ethnic, but he is confined to bed off-stage for the entire show). As luck would have it, Lorna is, like all mid-westerners, on a diet, so there is much pining over the ice cream (and pizza, and coneys). Thankfully, both men in the show are there to tell her she doesn’t need to lose weight.
Next we are introduced to poor, befuddled mom Barbara. The character seems designed mostly for comic relief and hand-wringing. In fact, she even has her own comic tag line, something like, “I raised six kids, there are whole years I don’t remember.” As a change of pace, mom doesn’t chide her daughter for her weight, but instead reminds Loran that she isn’t as bright as Jack.
The second man I referred to earier, is Jack’s childhood friend Phil. Picked up on a food run, Phil is a single, middle-aged, accountant, who still conveniently has that high school crush on Lorna. I don’t think it gives too much away to say that they couple up.
Rounding out the cast is Jack’s wife, Jenny. She is written as a typical, raised-with-money, nose-in-the-air, NYC bitch. As such, there is the obligatory general condemnation (during a cell phone call) of the midwest pride in where/how we were raised and specifically her mother-in-law’s choices in decor, dishes and flatware. Thankfully Barbara overhears the conversation and is quick to point out that she does have nice dishes and silverware…in the china cabinet. That certainly puts Jenny in her place.
Interesting themes such as Jack’s crisis of faith (isn’t divorce a Catholic fail?), his refusal to visit his ailing father who is BEDRIDDEN UPSTAIRS, and the effects of the current economy on the midwest middle class are brought up and quickly abandoned.
The press materials call Jack “the prodigal son,” which references the Bible story taught at all Catholic schools. Hasn’t Jack “returned” to what he turned his back on when he left for New York? Isn’t he seeking solace in his family, friends, and memories of his childhood?
Where is the close-knit family that grew up in a too-small house, who circle the wagons in time of crisis? Where are the Catholic names, the obsession with local sports, the use of the word “please?” Where is the heart, the love and the values that Cincinnati represents to many of us? I expected little nods to Cincinnati to be peppered throughout the play. Instead we were hit over the head with local favorite foods. We are so much more than what we eat.
Regardless of how much you enjoy the performance, the lackluster non-ending of the show begs the question, “Where is the third act?”
Click here for a complete list of show times, articles and other reviews for DEAD ACCOUNTS.
I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.