The good news? Dead Accounts wasn't quite DOA. The bad news? There wasn't much life in those reviews, either.
Katie Holmes' new Broadway play had its big opening night Thursday in New York City, and critics are now weighing in on her return to the Great White Way after appearing in a 2008 revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons.
While most zinged the play—about a prodigal son who returns home to his Ohio family—for a lack of depth and sharpness despite its sleek patina, reviews for Holmes' performance were a mixed bag. Many gave polite, if cautious, props to the 33-year-old for her refreshing and revelatory stage presence, while others lobbed backhanded compliments that played up her tabloid-magnet image.
Here's a capsule rundown of the critical lowdown:
• "Let me assure you that Ms. Holmes, who was a tad unsteady in her Broadway debut four years ago in Arthur Miller's All My Sons, appears much more at ease playing a worn-down country mouse to the hyped-up city mouse of [costar Norbert Leo Butz]," writes The New York Times' Ben Brantley. But the play's themes, he adds, "all blur into a single jet stream of semisnappy dialogue before changing course a few times and evaporating."
• "Let's just say [Holmes] looks fabulous in that just-bumming-around-but-still-gorgeous way that helps TMZ make its payroll," sniffs the Los Angeles Times. "But there's only so much that can be done with a play that has more topical urgency (greed, ethics and banking funny business) than dramatic finesse...[Playwright Theresa Rebeck] wants the profundity of mortality and her easy laughs too. She comes up empty-handed."
• "[Holmes] brings a lovely naturalness to her first starring Broadway role, along with frazzled warmth and judicious glimmers of a more brittle edge," offers The Hollywood Reporter. "Holmes animates her with an appealingly fresh stage presence." The play itself, however, is "never acquires thematic coherence."
• "Nothing ever gets cooking because Rebeck is far more interested in executing a simple, schematic plan for gentle amusement than in plumbing the depths she hints at," scoffs New York Magazine. "Holmes is insanely miscast but sunnily game in the role of a ground-down never-was with body image issues and a crater where her confidence should be."
• "Holmes was struggling vocally Wednesday night and generally lacks sufficiently expansive definition, but, in the few moments of actual revelation, she finds some poignancy in her relationship with her character," offers the Chicago Tribune, who nevertheless ripped the script for being "entertaining and zesty in a moment-by-moment way but really does not hang together as a credible dramatic story."
• The Associated Press notes that "Holmes plays an 'old but pretty' woman who...only flashes her beauty once, freeing her hair and looking seductive—enough to remind you what a head-turner she can be. It's a brave move for the 33-year-old, who deserves credit for trying hard." Still, the star "relies too much on a whiny teenage angst and a guilelessness that worked on TV but lacks nuance onstage."