Contemporary Playwright Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses, will be the first Saturday Staged Reading at the Actors Theatre Playhouse this season on Saturdays, July 8 and 15, at 7:30 p.m.
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 New York 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.”
The play opens with Bob and Jennifer Jones enjoying an evening at their picnic table. Their small talk 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.
Stage Reading director Michelle Page said she 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.”