Hyperrealism and Humor drive The Realistic Joneses
The Realistic Joneses premiered in 2012 at the Yale Repertory Theater and has now moved to Broadway to take up residency at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. It is not a perfect fit. The show, which is hilariously off center, seems a more natural fit for Playwright’s Horizon, or 2nd Stage or any other fantastic, quirky, just Off-Broadway venue. Will Eno, the playwright and author of pieces Gnit, Middletown and Thom Pain (based on nothing), has a reputation for creating pieces that you love or hate. I lovedThe Realistic Joneses, but many in the audience were less than amused.
|Tracy Letts, Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall & Marisa Tomei shine in The Realistic Joneses|
A dream cast takes the story of two couples, both surnamed Jones, and inhabits them with a surfeit of emotion and awkward tenderness in all its incoherent manifestations. Jennifer and Bob Jones (Toni Collette and Tracy Letts) are an older couple who’s stable lives have been interrupted, first by a disease and then by the new neighbor couple of Pony and John Jones surprising drop-bye (Marisa Tomei and Michael C. Hall) from down the street – albeit arriving with wine.
The tone is set early, when Bob goes in the house to get wine glasses and Jennifer quietly explains that Bob is undergoing treatment for a complicated disease.
Pony quickly says, “Say no more.”
So Jennifer naturally asks, “Have you had experience with something like this?’
And Pony answers, “No. I just don’t want you to say anymore about it”
It is this deadpan, flatly delivered honesty breaks down the walls between the two Jones couples and the audience. The two couples have more in common that you first expect, although there is no big reveal, no massive surprise that twists the play in a unexpected direction. Instead, there is just an amazing cast telling a funny and oddly touching story.
It is a tale of acceptance of the inevitable, no matter how difficult. And the tale of how we all react to circumstances beyond our control.
Directed with a spare honesty by Sam Gold, The Realistic Joneses doesn’t strive for great insights and so delivers the day-to-day insights with more clarity and realism than you expect. It is a great show.
The Realistic Joneses
Playwright: Will Eno
Director: Sam Gold
Cast: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Marisa Tomei