Solid Performances Bring "Dead Accounts" to Life
The latest student endeavor from Chaminade University Collegiate Theatre Festival is the last for this year- and what a show it is. Dead Accounts, written by Theresa Rebeck, is a comedy that is running at the Loo Theatre at the Chaminade University campus.
When Jack (KoDee Martin) unexpectedly returns home in Cincinnati, it throws his sister Lorna (Angie Anderson) for a loop. Coming home in the middle of the night with several big pints of ice cream from a local ice cream shop without his wife or any other bags, Jack’s odd behavior has Lorna on her guard. Their mother, Barbara (Claire Paul) welcomes Jack back into her house, with the unfortunate news that their father is sick with kidney stones upstairs. Jack even manages to reconnect with one of his buddies, Phil (John R. Barajas), and buys dozens upon dozens of Cheese Conies to eat with him while cracking open a beer at home. All the while, Lorna is still pinned on Jack’s odd behavior and his sudden return home. What triggered it? Where is his wife, Jenny (Abigail Oelke), and why does he joke about her being dead? Jenny eventually arrives at their home, and with her comes news that no one was prepared for.
Anderson is stunning in her grounded, nuanced performance, portraying a guarded yet still quite vulnerable Lorna. Armed with Rebeck’s words, she plunges into the depths of Lorna’s many struggles and layers while not letting it plod on at all, with the added addition of being an audience favorite with her comedic timing. Opposite Anderson is Martin, who plays the equally as complex and nuanced Jack, her brother. Rebeck did not make Jack an easy character to play, and Martin does his best to communicate Jack’s fleetingness, his insecurities, and his own set of baggage that he carries back into his home. Unfortunately, sometimes it feels Martin is in two different productions. On one hand, he can be grounded, believable, and realistic, but then there will be moments where he flips into a very different Jack that goes over the top for no discernable reason, commanding a large and boisterous performance better suited for a larger stage rather than an intimate black box setting. Paul as Barbara, the mother, is shines and excels in not just her consistent acting and her very tender motherly performance but in her superb makeup as well. Barajas is only in the play for three or four scenes, but he exercises his time very well when he is on stage as Phil. Whether it’s being bros with Jack, exploring a crush that never left him with Lorna, or grabbing that last box of pizza, he has the potential to steal the scene with his natural charisma but never does, instead masterfully pulling back to let the story continue. Rounding out the cast is Oelke as Jack’s estranged wife Jenny, who had a showstopping entrance on the Sunday performance I attended. Throughout half the play she was merely talked about as this icy person who the family does not really get along with, and when she first steps she communicates all those years of tension and animosity with a single glare. Fierce, stubborn, and consistently composed, Oelke commanded presence whenever she stepped into the room.
Director Tyler Haugen has composed a strong cast to go along with this fun script. He also has quite the team alongside him: Rachel Filbeck’s set design is incredible, with her set of a midwestern house feeling very warm and lived in. Annastasia Fiala’s costumes are wonderful- everyone has a dynamic look that is theirs, and throughout all the changes they make throughout the show her designs are well married with their characters.
Ultimately, this is a very fun show. Rebeck constructs a lot of fun moments and Haugen’s capable actors take off, filling in the rest. There are times Rebeck’s script falters, and it may be tough to pinpoint the actual soul and spine of the show, but the wonderful performances onstage massage that tension out.
Dead Accounts will be presented on July 13 – 14 and 19 – 21 at 7:30pm, July 15 and 22 at 4:00pm. Thursday July 19th is a “pay what you can” performance.
Tickets are available at a cost $10 to $15. Advanced tickets using a credit card may be purchased through www.showtix4u.com (keyword Chaminade or Honolulu) or by calling 1-866-967-8167. You can also visit our website at www.cuctf.com or call 808-735-4827.