Dead Accounts - Opening Night at the Den Theatre

Dead Accounts is the story of Jack (Steve O'Connell), a frenetic New Yorker who has come home to Cincinnati to hide out from his troubles--both financial and marital. He returns to his Midwestern roots, including sister Lorna (Emily Tate) who has never left home, Mom Barbara (Millie Hurley) who is consumed with Dad's illness, and his childhood friend Phil (Bradford R. Lund), still carrying a torch for Lorna.

photo/David Rosenberg PR

Worldly wise Jack, who has apparently made a lot of money in New York, is in some kind of crisis. His coping strategies include buying huge quantities of ice cream, bags full of cheese Coneys and eight pizzas.

 

photo/David Rosenberg PR

We learn one of the things that has brought him back to Ohio is his impending divorce from bitchy-rich New York wife Jenny (Elizabeth Antonucci) to which Barbara says "Both of my sons married horrible women." Jack replies, "You're right. I should have stayed in Cincinnati."

 

It is this continual contrast between Midwestern sensibilities and New York values (or lack thereof) that permeates the two hour performance in the cozy storefront theatre on Milwaukee Avenue. "You could eat thousands of cheese Coneys for the cost of one dinner at Babbo," says Jack to Lorna. "You stayed here. You didn't fall for it."

 

Lorna has fallen, however, for the incessant female concern over one's appearance that might typically be thought of as a New York attitude, constantly lamenting that she's fat (though she clearly isn't) and beating herself up over eating the ice cream and cheese Coneys.

 

Jenny makes an appearance and clears up the mystery of why Jack has returned home. "Did he tell you what he did? He stole 27 million dollars!" This refrain is repeated over and over by Jenny, who calls her ex a "bank robber," and Lorna and Barbara, who have joined forces on this one point, at least.

photo/David Rosenberg PR

But, while Jenny sticks with the bank robber mantra, Lorna seems to understand that stealing from these "dead accounts" was stealing "from a bunch of people who don't care." She vacillates between supporting her brother against Jenny, and then turning on him because of her religious values, which tell her stealing is wrong. Clearly, Jack doesn't have the same moral dilemma. And in fact, for as much as he laments that Lorna "didn't fall for it" and he did, we never get the sense that he actually cares all that much.

photo/David Rosenberg PR

The play hints, both subtly and not, at the dichotomy between money and religion, virtue and vice, and how two siblings who grew up with the same set of parents in the same Midwestern town can take two such divergent paths--one worshipping at the altar of Catholicism, the other praying to the almighty dollar.

Dead Accounts runs through November 2 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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