Meet the Joneses—same last name, very married and very mortal—times two. One couple is older (Linda Reiter as Jennifer and H.B. Ward as Bob); the other couple are newly arrived neighbors (Joseph Wiens as John and Cortney McKenna as Pony).
They meet on elder Jones’ deck – a study in suburban sterility so well-detailed (Scenic Design: Jack Magaw) that when the younger Jones’ go indoors to use the two bathrooms in the house we can easily imagine how they are greeted by the cloying smells of scented wall fresheners from a Bed, Bath and Beyond and décor that would be well-suited for any mid-range chain hotel seeking anonymous lack of personality.
Several panel-sized paintings depicting the vast oceans ring the house, which as the story unfolds, stand as ever-ready reminders of how small our characters are- how we all are—in the vast universe where the story plays out.
Shattered Globe and Theater Wit Host Another Work by Playwright Will Eno
Right from the gitgo, and for the one hour and forty minutes to follow, it is the fast-moving wit of playwright Will Eno’s pen that charms us. Jen says to Bob, “Would you like to talk?” and Bob answers “Aren’t we talking?” Bob's name is a good one for dyslexics. Pony explains they moved to this suburb because of the good schools. When Jen then asks if they have children, Pony clarifies “No, it’s just that Bob doesn’t like stupid children.” Again and again your mind’s ear is imagining the “Da-dah” drum beat signaling a punch line delivered. But, before the “Da-dah” drum stops rolling, yet another fast-paced bon mot—delivered by these actors with deadpan aplomb-- moves in to keep the delight going.
Much of the fun follows this formula--- Eno’s characters, and especially John, find word salads and ambiguities to explode in dialogue that keeps us smiling. It’s as though Eno gave his inner Groucho a Roget’s thesaurus vitamin injection to pepper every scene. For this writer, it more than works.
The playful dialogue is so bewitching that it’s easy to lose sight of how The Realistic Joneses is, in part, exploring similar terrain to Shattered Globe’s production of Marvin’s Room, where Reiter similarly played a velvety-voiced caretaker. While many scripts tackle morbidity and mortality with gut-wrenching emotion, this script keeps it all in the head.
Loyalty no matter what vs. childishly abandoning, running away, denial, or even making one-liner jokes the way a leper comic might when a finger falls off, and more—Eno’s script showcases the infinite varieties of how we deal with the terrors of the grim reaper’s arrival. Most of all, it’s the craving for marriage and coupling connection to help us cope—that realistic Jones— that Eno’s script, the superb cast and direction (Director: Jeremy Wechsler) bring to life.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Thru March 9
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 3 pm.
Monday, February 4 at 7:30 pm
Wednesday, March 6 at 8 pm.
1229 W. Belmont Ave.
Jack Magaw (scenic design), Hailey Rakowiecki^ (costume design), John Kelly (lighting design), Christopher Kriz^ (sound design), Vivian Knouse*(props design), Ellen White (production manager), Katie Klemme (stage manager) and Devonte Washington^ (assistant stage manager).