There is evidence of life on another planet. The planet is called Eno. As in Will Eno – “a new voice”, an experimental playwright, a man of many words playfully used to some effect in THE REALISTIC JONESES – a series of short scenes that might be more at home in the Fringe Festival than the Lyceum Theatre.
There are four quirky characters and a memorable dead squirrel bringing to mind WAITING FOR GODOT by Beckett and Caryl Churchill’s LOVE AND INFORMATION with a bit of Edward Albee thrown in for good measure.
It takes place in “a smallish town not far from some mountains” with tall pine trees looming on a unit set (David Zinn) that looks like a yard sale is about to take place with another interior location at the other side of the stage separated by a pair of glass sliding doors.
Bob Jones (Tracy Letts) and Jennifer Jones (Toni Colette) gaze at the stars and try to communicate with each other. Bob has a degenerate neurological disease – problems with vision, memory and balance and they have moved here to be near a doctor that can treat him.
They are soon and unexpectedly joined by the other pair of Joneses – John (Michael C. Hall) and Pony (Marisa Tomei) who have just moved in nearby. They bring a bottle of wine that remains unopened. It’s an uncomfortable situation for all.
We soon learn that John suffers from a similar disease. He’s a repairman of sorts who is always hearing something strange but then he isn’t. His wife Pony is ditsy and has an amusing talk with God.
Jennifer is high strung and tries to be as patient as she can be with her sarcastic grouch of a husband Bob who is in denial.
All of this is a bit pretentious and we learn little that is enlightening about mortality and said disease. There are many Pinter-esque silences and very little takes place although it is sometimes very amusing in the word play department. We don’t remember much of what has happened after leaving the theatre but you will surely remember the dead squirrel.
The acting is first rate and the direction by Sam Gold keeps things moving smoothly along for its thankfully short 95 minutes.
It appears that it has taken a village of producers to mount this four character production that was commissioned by and premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre. Proof that there are many who believe in life on another planet.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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