Meet the Joneses, the two couples who are the center of Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses. Bob and Jennifer Jones are an older couple dealing with Bob’s terminal illness. Their lives are turned upside down when a younger couple, John and Pony, move in down the street. John and Pony Jones are unapologetically quirky, and they aren’t afraid to say what they’re thinking.
The Realistic Joneses is not a plot driven piece. In this show, the characters shine the brightest. There is a wonderful contrast between the older Bob and Jennifer Jones (Joel Hammer and Tracee Patterson) who, when compared to their counterparts, are best described as normal. On the other hand, John and Pony (Chris Richards and Rachel Zake) are delightfully peculiar and funny. The play follows the drama that occurs when the two couples encounter each other, and the actors and their impeccable comedic timing do not disappoint.
Each actor shone in their role. Hammer’s deadpan delivery delighted over and over, while Richards’s fast paced delivery was equally hilarious. Zake perfectly pulled off the ditzy and flighty Pony, while Patterson grounded the cast as perfectly as Jennifer. However, I do think that Richards’s performance was a true standout. Between his timing and his zany lines, the audience was in stitches every single time he spoke.
Instead of following a definitive plot, the show focused more on small moments, which were almost skit-like. However, the ideas still flow excellently, even if there wasn’t a conclusive beginning, middle, and end. The show doesn’t really even have an ending; the loose ends aren’t tied up, and there wasn’t a huge climax. What happens next is for the audience to decide. At first, when I was walking out of the theater, I felt as if I had been cheated out of an ending. In each scene tension rose, and it hinted at some big finale that never happened. There was conflict, but it never took center stage. But now, after having some time to reflect, I’ve decided that it would have been out of place to have some epic finale. If it did, it would have lost some of its charm and hilarity, and it would have let the dark undertones of the show take over.
I’m not quite sure how I would describe this play. It’s absurd and abstract, but it’s understandable, entertaining, and down to earth. It’s talky, but it’s never boring. If I really had to make a comparison, I would say that it comes the closest to being like Yasmina Reza’s, God of Carnage, if God of Carnage was on steroids, or perhaps it’s more like a really dark episode of Seinfeld. But that’s part of its charm. It can’t be defined and it doesn’t try to. This play grapples with dark themes, such as illness, infidelity, and dead rodents, but it never loses the light and joy, which made this production so good. The characters understand that everything comes to an end- just like a certain poor squirrel- but they know it’s okay. And they know how to find enjoyment in the simple things in life, like a fireworks show, a broken lamp, or the hooting of an owl.