Staged reading of 'The Realistic Jones' funny and thoughtful
Will Eno's "The Realistic Joneses." subtitled "a Dramatic Comedy," is a funny and moving story of neighbors who share their last name, and a not entirely casual backyard conversation. According to the NY Times, "Plays as funny and moving, as wonderful and weird as 'The Realistic Joneses' do not appear often ... or ever, really. You're as likely to see a tumbleweed lolloping across 42nd Street as you are to see something as daring as Mr. Eno's meditation on the confounding business of being alive (or not). And I hope the word "weird" doesn't scare you off: Mr. Eno's voice may be the most singular of his generation, but it's humane, literate and slyly hilarious. He makes the most mundane language caper and dance, revealing how absurd attempts at communication can be. He also burrows into the heart of his characters to reveal the core of their humanity: the fear and loneliness and unspoken love that mostly remains hidden beneath the surface as we plug away at life, come what may. It's this kind of disjointed dialogue that reveals what Eno is really tackling, namely communication and all its absurdities. He demonstrates how words remain unspoken, how they are hurled from one person to another, how inadequate language can be, how much we yearn for words of love and comfort. And all the while, he can be quite hilarious."
The play opens with Bob and Jennifer Jones enjoying an evening at their picnic table. Their small-talk conversation bears signs of unease. Enter new neighbors John and Pony Jones bearing a bottle. They have chosen to live where they do, Pony explains, because she "always wanted to live in one of these little towns near the mountains." When Bob disappears inside the house to fetch wine glasses, Jennifer says they moved to town because Bob has a degenerative disease with a poor prognosis and a good specialist lives nearby.
With that we are off to the races.
The evolving and fragile relationships of the two couples form the plot and serve as a vehicle for the playwright's reflections on life's disappointments and frustrations. As the story progresses via short scenes/sketches, all four Joneses seem like normal folks — but for their often-disordered way of communicating. It's a mechanism Eno employs successfully to reveal how we muddle through life and its events, whether they bring us laughter, sadness, or simply a huge "Huh?"
Both Dan Patterson as Bob and G.Sherman H. Morrison as John address the acting challenges their roles present. "Bob has never been a demonstrative sort of guy,"said Dan, "but now that he is faced with a mortal disease, he really doesn't know how he's supposed to feel. As a result, he shuts his feelings down which completely frustrates his wife. These people are all lost in a way, searching for something, some way of dealing with their pain and fear. They each seem to have developed their own unique and eccentric way of dealing with the huge changes that have overwhelmed them." G. Sherman H. Morrison put it this way. "John is a fascinating character to play because he's so odd and random. He wants so badly to just escape instead of facing his ultimate challenge, but he also knows there is no escaping what lies ahead for him."
Stage Reading director Michelle Page finds the play both funny and thoughtful. "I liked this play instantly because it felt like a real interaction between two sets of strangers. The characters are awkward and lack boundaries which leads to witty comments and uncomfortable exchanges. Anyone who has ever held a conversation with someone they've just met is likely to see themselves in these characters."
Performances are Saturdays, July 8 and 15 at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $8 for all seats and reservations can be made at our toll free box office line, 877-666-1855. The Actors Theatre Playhouse is located on the corner of Brook and Main streets, West Chesterfield. For more information visit atplayhouse.org.
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