The Joneses of the title refers to two couples, neighbors, both named Jones. Bob (JC Cutler) and Jennifer (Angela Timberman) have lived in the neighborhood for years, and are going through a difficult time due to Bob's recent diagnosis with a rare illness. They're shaken out of their lives of doctor visits and medications when John (Eric "Pogi" Sumangil) and Pony (Jane Froiland) rent the house next door, seemingly on a whim. You've heard of "meet cute;" this is "meet awkward." The two couples don't really like each other at first. But they keep running into each other, and find that they have more in common than they thought. They find a reluctant connection with each other that eases the transition they're all going through.
The play is funny at times, and sad at times, and perplexing at times. I love awkwardness and silence in theater (maybe because there's so much of it in real life, it's refreshing to watch it play out on stage from the safety of my seat), and there's plenty of it here. The cast delivers on every word and pause in the script. JC is kind of heartbreaking as the man who doesn't want to face his illness, and isn't really quite sure what's happening to him. Angela is one of my favorite actors to watch in comedies and dramas, and especially in the mix of the two as this piece is; she can break my heart and crack me up at the same time. As Pony, Jane is adorable and awkward and flighty and annoying, not unlike a newborn pony. Pogi has most of the weird awkward nonsensical lines, and he pulls it off as the not-quite-all-there but well-meaning John. All of these characters are beautifully flawed humans, sometimes likeable, sometimes unlikeable, just like all of us.
|the Joneses meet the Joneses (Angela Timberman,|
JC Cutler, Eric "Pogi" Sumangil, and Jane Froiland,
photo by Petronella J. Ytsma)
The Realistic Joneses continues through October 16. If you like your theater funny, weird, moving, and perplexing, this is the show for you. I'll leave you with this quote from New York Times review of the 2014 Broadway production that perfectly encapsulates the beauty of this play:
Plays as funny and moving, as wonderful and weird as “The Realistic Joneses,” by Will Eno, do not appear often on Broadway. Or ever, really. You’re as likely to see a tumbleweed lolloping across 42nd Street as you are to see something as daring as Mr. Eno’s meditation on the confounding business of being alive (or not) sprouting where only repurposed movies, plays by dead people and blaring musicals tend to thrive.
This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.