Lots of life, laughs in ‘Dead Accounts’ at Dragon Theatre

Why is this man back in his family’s kitchen eating ice cream late at night? That’s what his sister wants to know.

And that’s just the start of what she and others want to know in Dragon Theatre’s production of “Dead Accounts” by Theresa Rebeck. As the play continues, it raises moral and legal questions as well as class issues and the cultural differences between the Midwest and East Coast.

It all starts with Jack Leonard (Michael Champlin), who has returned to Cincinnati after several years of working in a New York City bank. His estranged wife, Jenny (Janine Saunders Evans), isn’’t with him.

Jack’s 30ish sister, Lorna (Kristen Kaye Lo), lives in the family home to help their mother, Barbara (Jackie O’Keefe), a devout Catholic, care for their seriously ill father (not seen).

Then when Jenny unexpectedly shows up, she drops the big zinger — Jack has siphoned $27 million from dead accounts at the bank. These are accounts whose owners either have forgotten about them or have died without anyone else knowing about them. He seems to think there’s nothing wrong. She thinks he’s a thief, as do his mother and sister.

Jenny’s arrival also highlights some of the cultural differences she represents. The Leonards are just an ordinary Midwestern, middle class family, while she’s a snob from a wealthy, old-money family in New York.

Talking on the phone with someone, she derides the linoleum floor and the Corelle dishes. She rejects Lorna’s offer of Franzia wine from a box.

Jack isn’t any great prize either. He’s especially unlikable with his loud, profanity-laced dialogue in the opening scene with Lorna. He remains hyper through most of the play, but he cleans up his language.

Champlin and Lo, who portray the brother and sister, also direct the play. The partnership works well and has resulted in sharp timing as well as spot-on casting of both themselves and the play’s three other characters. In addition to Jenny and Barbara, there’s the amiable Phil (Brian Flegel), Jack’s longtime friend who has had a crush on Lorna for years

The production also benefits from R. Dutch Fritz’s set, William Campbell’s lighting, Tahiya Marome’s costumes and Lance Huntley’s sound.

Running about an hour and 45 minutes with one intermission, the play ends ambiguously, leaving the audience to try to figure out what Jack will do. Nevertheless, it’s time well spent, especially with the issues it raises and the laughs it produces.

“Dead Accounts” will continue through Feb. 19 at Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway St., Redwood City. For tickets and information, call (650) 493-2006 or visit www.dragonproductions.net.