Michael C. Hall has broken with the past, made a break.

No more sawed-off limbs, gruesome murder, headless bodies or infants sitting in puddles of blood. His serial killer Dexter is no more. Now Hall is starring in a Broadway play about two suburban couples.

"There's really no room for so much of what Dexter called on me to do in this -- including killing people -- thankfully," says Hall in his freshly painted Broadway dressing room.

So the body count is "just a squirrel," Hall continues.

He is one of an impressive quartet of actors starring in Will Eno's play "The Realistic Joneses." The former Showtime sociopath joins Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei and Tracy Letts.

A dark comedy, the play is about two couples who have more in common than their identical homes and their shared last names. It's an off-kilter work about the thirst for human connection and understanding.

It was the perfect antidote to Hall's post-"Dexter" blues. Few may know that before he picked up the scalpel, Hall was a thespian and a song-and-dance man, and after the series he wanted to return to theater. He even did an early workshop for the Broadway-bound "Big Fish," but his schedule didn't work out with "Dexter."

"I experienced an increasingly intense itch to come back to the stage, and when I talked to my representatives about it, I said, 'My ideal thing would be to do a new American play by a living playwright on Broadway,' which is somewhat of a rare thing."

He got it all with Eno's play, which premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 2012 and opens tonight on Broadway. Hall was invited to a reading before it came to New York. He wolfed down the script in one sitting before getting on a flight to New York.

"I think Will's work is just phenomenal," says Hall, 43. "There's something mysterious about the cumulative power of his words. He's the real deal."

Eno returns the compliment in a separate conversation. "It was uncanny and almost eerie how instantly he just plugged himself into the role and the play," says the playwright. "He is absolutely terrific, and he is really funny in an easy way."

The play marks the first time Hall has returned to Broadway since he took over from Alan Cumming as the white-faced emcee in the last revival of "Cabaret," a part he played for almost 500 times and credits as "a real gift."

"When I was told that I got that part, everything that has happened beyond then has been beyond anything I ever really imagined. That was really the moment of, 'Wow. Maybe I'm really going to get away with this,' " he recalls.

He fully intended on a stage career after graduating from New York University and threw himself into Shakespearian roles and even the musical "Chicago." "It's where I came from. It's what initially drew me to acting," he says.

In his first Broadway show, David Hare's "Skylight" in 1996, Hall was an understudy. He never made it onstage but he was paid. "It was the most money I'd ever made. I'd call in at 7:30, they didn't need me and I'd watch 'The Simpsons.' It was great."

His breakout roles -- David Fisher, the funeral director Hall played a decade ago on HBO's "Six Feet Under," and then "Dexter" -- took him away. Both earned him Emmy Award nominations.

"The roles that I've done of those two shows are parts that I really didn't know existed when I was training to be an actor. The idea that you could do this long-form, open-ended, ever-evolving, rich complex character on a television show was not really an option, until it became one," he says. "I feel fortunate to have been out there in the ocean when that wave came."

Hall returns to those waters in Showtime's new series on climate change, premiering this month, "Years of Living Dangerously." Hall was one of several celebrities -- including Jessica Alba, Harrison Ford, Olivia Munn and Matt Damon -- sent around the globe to report. Hall spent two weeks in Bangladesh.

"It's not about changing their light bulbs," he says. "It's a life and death issue for them. I was so, among other things, just amazed by the spirit and resiliency of those people."