BWW Review: New Century's THE REALISTIC JONESES is Clever but Unsatisfying
Give me a good old fashioned play with a good old fashioned structure; a beginning, a middle and an end. Or if not, if you insist on a slice of life play, at least have something interesting to say about said life. Instead, what Will Eno's play, "The Realistic Jones", the current offering from New Century Theatre Company, gives us is an hour and 40 minutes of somewhat clever dialog from some stuck, sad people that I wouldn't want to spend 5 minutes with let alone an entire play.
We have Jennifer and Bob Jones (Sunam Ellis and Evan Whitfield) sitting in the backyard of their home in a quiet little town, tolerating each other's existence when in wander the new neighbors Pony and John (Brenda Joyner and Peter Dylan O'Connor) whose last name also happens to be Jones. What follows are several socially awkward conversations about illness, loss of work, failing companies, infidelity and death.
Eno's work has been heralded by many for its crisp dialog (which I agree with) and for holding a mirror up to reality showing all of its cracks for what they are. And while this may be true I can look at the stark nature of reality by stepping out my front door. If you're going to give it to me in a play at least give me something I cannot normally see or at least from interesting people. Or even just give some kind of conflict and resolution in the piece. Now I hear you, not all plays need a resolution, but this particular bit of life just kind of drones on until it ultimately ends in a whimper.
I do not fault the folks at New Century for my lack of enjoyment of the piece. As usual they provide a stellar and uber-professional bit of work. Director Paul Budraitis keeps a decent pace with the show. The set from Andrew Bryn Bush is practical and well-appointed with an excellent device for a scene change and I loved the tiny town above the set that indicated the isolated nature of the area as well as the changes in time. And the cast is superb with what they are given and each have some brilliant moments but each also suffer from a script that allows no character growth making each of them feel one note. It seems the only change the characters felt was when they changed their medication.
Ultimately this is just not my kind of shoW. Maybe it's yours and it's certainly other's based on the awards and reviews of the original productions. But for me, I prefer more to go on than melancholy one-liners and an exasperated sigh of an ending. And so, with my three letter rating system I give New Century Theatre Company's production of "The Realistic Joneses" an exasperated sigh of a MEH-. I don't need car chases or laser battles but I do prefer a plot.