Theater Review - The Realistic Joneses (NY)

I found Will Eno's play, “The Realistic Joneses” interesting when I saw it at the Yale Rep two years ago. In that review, I said that it was one of the very best but saddest plays I've seen for it was hard to laugh at people who were in the throes of a fatal disease.  This time on Broadway, with a new cast except for Tracy Letts, who can do no wrong, the humor was more telling; the word play was even more quirky and upbeat. The audience I was a part of laughed heartily and so did I. 

 

When the play opens, Tracy Letts and the terrific Toni Collette as Bob and Jennifer Jones, are sitting outside reveling in the evening. Well, at least Jen is. She's trying to be positive and upbeat. Bob is a man of few words. He cannot respond when she accuses him of not conversing seriously, but throwing words around. They live “in a smallish town not far from the mountains.”  She's given up her career at his request, but he doesn't seem appreciative.  They are interrupted by a younger couple also named Jones who tell them they've just moved to a house down the road.  Her name is Pony and his is John. Played by Marisa Tomei and Michael C. Hall, they appear to be delightfully naive. Marisa Tomei is a pixie who shines on stage and Hall delivers some of the best lines in the show.  

 

When Bob goes inside to get something, Jen tells them he is suffering from an incurable neurological disease, called Harrison-Levy syndrome and is being treated  by a local doctor, who is a specialist in the field.  Turns out that John has the same condition and has moved there without telling Pony anything. She thinks it is a nice change to live in the country.

 

For 90 minutes without intermission, Director Sam Gold keeps the action going; although towards the end the depressing conclusions slow to a grinding halt.  David Zinn's set is bucolic; lit by Marc Barton to define the two spaces, punctuated by screen doors, it works well.

 

The Realistic Joneses is not the usual Broadway fare; yet it should be seen.  It deals with subject matter that surrounds us but is not discussed. At the Lyceum Theater.

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