BWW Reviews: Will Eno Hits Broadway with THE REALISTIC JONESES
Given its quartet of name stars and, quite frankly, the fact that it's on Broadway, playwright Will Eno's Main Stem debut, The Realistic Joneses, will most likely be a lot of playgoers' first experience with the scribe best known for oblique downtown fare such as Thom Pain (based on nothing) and Middletown; plays that seem satisfied to bask in their own quirkiness.
If consistency counts for anything, those who wish to peruse the critical consensus in an attempt to figure out what the hell it is they just saw will most likely find a reviewing press divided between enthusiastic admiration and annoyed distain.
Still, The Realistic Joneses is clearly Eno's most accessible play. It's funny, though more of the peculiar type of funny than the genuinely humorous kind. If Middletown was a kind of "Thornton Wilder goes Beckett," The Realistic Joneses comes off as a Neil Simon attempt at absurdism.
Director Sam Gold's steady production achieves a deceptive tone of normalcy. Set in "a smallish town not far from some mountains," the play opens with a frustrated Jennifer (Toni Collette) trying to get some conversation out of her sullen husband, Bob (Tracy Letts).
"It just seems like we don't talk."
"What are we doing right now, math?
Shortly after their relationship is clearly defined as strained, they're visited by chipper new neighbors from down the block; John (Michael C. Hall) and Pony (Marisa Tomei). Both couples not only share the surname of Jones, but both husbands are suffering from the same neurological disorder, which might at least explain John's excitement in having discovered a company that publishes transcripts of audio books.
For 90 minutes the quartet divides themselves into scenes that hint at plot points, but the evening appears to be mostly about communication, as expressed through numerous non-sequiturs, nonsensical observations and the habitual literal interpretation of common expressions.
"You know what they say about still waters..."
Count this critic as among those that appreciate producers bringing unconventional new plays to Broadway but who nevertheless has little motivation to try and fathom Mr. Eno's dramatic intention.
Perhaps it's time to peruse the critical consensus in an attempt to figure out what the hell it is I just saw.