Review | ‘The Realistic Joneses’
Darkly Funny Suburban Comedy on Stage at Ventura’s Rubicon Through the Weekend
The Realistic Joneses, by Will Eno, is a play about facing mortality that is darkly funny, enjoyably bizarre, and deeply relatable. Directed by Judy Hegarty-Lovett and presented in Ventura at the Rubicon Theatre, the play follows two couples, both with the last name Jones, who live on the same street. The four develop a friendship of happenstance, based on similar circumstances rather than truly enjoying each other’s company. The awkwardness of their interactions is as charming as it is cringey, and the four actors — Faline England, Sorcha Fox, Conor Lovett, and Joe Spano — handily walk the tightrope between sensible and surreal.
Bob (Spano) suffers a rare congenital disease that leaves him and his wife, Jennifer (Fox), struggling to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of his slow downward spiral. He’s morose and she’s dedicated to moving forward in a sympathetic (albeit pragmatic) manner, leaving them in an emotional stalemate. When the new Joneses, John (Lovett) and Pony (England) move into the neighborhood, they provide the original Joneses with a jolt back into life. John, who is also struggling with his health, has a curious sense of humor that delights Pony and confuses Bob and Jennifer. Pony is both deep and ditzy, a whirlwind of disconnected emotions and peculiar concerns.
The couples are well-matched in their interactions: Pony excites Bob, and John calls Jennifer out on her heaviness of spirit and accepts a kind of emotional care from her that Pony is unable to provide. While this play explores the hard pill of mortality, it also basks in the glorious distraction of living life. The Realistic Joneses tucks broad existential conflict into the quiet routine of suburban living with great success.
The Realistic Joneses runs at the Rubicon Theatre (1006 E. Main St., Ventura, rubicontheatre.org) through Sunday, February 12.
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