Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Realistic Joneses ***

Will Eno's Broadway debut play, now in previews at the Lyceum is a strange mashup of the absurd and the hilarious, with a strong undercurrent of ruefulness and resignation. In it, we meet two couples, both named Jones. The older long-married couple, Bob (Tracy Letts) and Jennifer (Toni Collette) rarely converse, especially since Bob fell ill with an incurable neurological disorder. While sitting on their patio, they are surprised by a visit from their new neighbors, John (Michael C. Hall) and Pony (Marisa Tomei), who have just moved to town. Their initial conversation might be described as a combination of Beckett and Borscht Belt. Hall gets most of the good lines. The two couples at first seem to have little in common, but are drawn to each other and eventually form a peculiar bond. The play explores the uses of conversation both as a way to express, avoid and conceal feelings. Its blend of hilarity and humanity works well most of the time, but the one-liners grow a bit tiresome after a while. The high-profile cast handles Eno's off-kilter dialog with aplomb under Sam Gold's nimble direction. David Zinn's scenic design, Kaye Voyce's costumes and Mark Barton's lighting set the appropriate mood. Of the four Eno plays I have seen, this one was both the funniest and the most affecting. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes; no intermission.

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