‘The Realistic Joneses’ rings true

From left, Joseph Wiens, Cortney McKenna, H.B. Ward and Linda Reiter in Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater Wit's "The Realistic Joneses." (Evan Hanover photo)
From left, Joseph Wiens, Cortney McKenna, H.B. Ward and Linda Reiter in Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater Wit’s “The Realistic Joneses.” (Evan Hanover photo)

3.5 Stars

Bob (H.B. Ward) and Jennifer (Linda Reiter) Jones are surprised to meet their new neighbors who also share the same last name.

The second Jones couple, Pony (Cortney McKenna), and John (Joseph Wiens) are a quirky duo. Pony is a bit scatter brained, maybe even clueless while John is prone to outlandish non-sequiturs and pseudo philosophical profundities.

We learn that Bob, who prefers to communicate in one word sentences, is suffering from a mortal neurological illness that he is dealing with by trying to ignore it and which is causing Jennifer and him a good deal of stress.

The beauty of this script by Will Eno is how his brilliant dialogue skillfully interjects rapid fire humor juxtaposed against the often grim and frank discussions of life in general, and feelings of impending doom.

The characters do their best to have some immediate fun and enjoy some of the simple wonders around them while using humor to disguise and disarm the abject fears they are facing.

In the end, the two couples have an ongoing series of absurd conversations that actually do get to the core of what they want to express while avoiding, or at least minimizing, any straightforward communication.

Some theater goers may find the material a bit too “close to home” but overall neither the playwright nor the Joneses want you to squirm in your seats.  They take you to the edge then soften the blow with humor, leaving you with time to ponder the significance of their previous observations or experience.

Through this back-and-forth or yo-yo process we witness the fragility of life and lengths we go to avoid conflict and full-on exposure of our deepest thoughts and fears.

The “Realistic Joneses” is set mostly on the backyard patio deck of Bob and Jennifer that can be anywhere USA. It’s a familiar scene, designed by Jack Magaw and augmented by the meaningful lighting design of John Kelly that will make you feel right at home.

The patio set is alternated with an interior of Pony and John’s kitchen as well as one scene in front of a stockade fence that is reminiscent of the cartoon series “King of the Hill” where the characters attempt a meaningful conversation peppered with sports talk while avoiding eye contact.

This is a well-paced flawless production with top notch performances under the expert direction of Jeremy Wechsler.

DETAILS: “The Realistic Joneses” presented by Shattered Globe Theatre is  at Theater Wit 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, through March 9, 2019 Running time: about 1 hour, 40 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and other information call (773) 975-8150or visit Theater Wit.

Reno Lovison

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

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