Lyceum Theatre, (4/06/2014 - 7/06/2014)

First Preview: Mar 13, 2014
Opening Date: Apr 06, 2014
Closing Date: Jul 06, 2014
Total Previews: 27
Total Performances: 105

Category: Play, Comedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: A smallish town not far from some mountains. The Present.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, Stacey Mindich, Susan Quint Gallin, Mary Lu Roffe, Andy Sandberg, Scott M. Delman, William Berlind, Caiola Productions, CandyWendyJamie Productions, Amy Danis & Mark Johannes, Finn Moellenberg Productions, Angelina Fiordellisi, Jay Franke, Gesso Productions, Grimaldi Astrachan Hello Entertainment, Meg Herman, Mara Smigel Rutter Productions, KM-R&D and Will Trice; Produced in association with Yale Repertory Theatre (James Bundy, Artistic Director; Victoria Nolan, Managing Director); Associate Producer: Michael Crea and PJ Miller

Commissioned by and premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre (James Bundy, Artistic Director; Victoria Nolan, Managing Director)

Written by Will Eno

Directed by Sam Gold; Assistant Director: Osheen Jones

Scenic Design by David Zinn; Costume Design by Kaye Voyce; Lighting Design by Mark Barton; Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg; Associate Scenic Design: Tim McMath; Associate Costume Design: Amy Jean Wright; Associate Lighting Design: G. Benjamin Swope; Associate Sound Design: Will Pickens; Assistant Lighting Design: Tess James

General Manager: Bespoke Theatricals; Company Manager: Lizbeth Cone; Associate Gen. Mgr: Steve Dow

Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatrical Associates; Production Stage Manager: Jill Cordle; Stage Manager: Morgan R. Holbrook

Press Representative: Jeffrey Richards Associates, Irene Gandy, Alana Karpoff, Christopher Pineda and Thomas Raynor; Casting: Daniel Swee; Advertising: Serino Coyne; Interactive Marketing: Broadway's Best Shows; Marketing: Irene Gandy, Alana Karpoff, Christopher Pineda and Thomas Raynor; Photographer: Joan Marcus; Advertising Associate: Mark Seeley

Opening Night Cast

Toni ColletteJennifer Jones
Michael C. HallJohn Jones
Tracy LettsBob Jones
Marisa TomeiPony Jones

Understudies: Anney Giobbe (Jennifer Jones, Pony Jones) and Antony Hagopian (Bob Jones, John Jones)

Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Award

winner 2014 Outstanding Ensemble Performance [winner] 

Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei


AP: "'The Realistic Joneses' is quirky, too odd"

You know when people first meet and it can be instantly awkward? They talk over each other, make inane comments and sometimes completely miss the point? Well, that pretty much never ends in Will Eno's quirky, existential Broadway debut.

In "The Realistic Joneses," which opened Sunday at the Lyceum Theatre, Eno has two couples meet for the first time and makes their interactions so tortured and weird that he seems to be suggesting that language itself is a terrible way for humans to communicate.

"This was fun," one says to the others after the initial meeting. "I mean, not fun, but, definitely some other word." A few scenes later, the same character blurts out, after falling into another of the plays many linguistic eddies: "Words don't really do it for me anymore, anyway."

The cast assembled for this often-puzzling 90-minute play is remarkable: Toni Collette of "United States of Tara," Marisa Tomei of "My Cousin Vinny," Michael C. Hall of "Dexter" and Tracy Letts, the Tony winning playwright and actor.

All make their parts funny and poignant as they try to rise above the soup of lines they've been given. The humor is unconventional and gets tiresome by the second half. Sometimes it feels like a long intellectual version of the old "Who's on First" routine. It may have been more fun to write than see.

Director Sam Gold revels in its bizarreness without letting it get loopy, while David Zinn's cluttered set design — especially with Mark Barton's reliance on backlit lighting — give the show a somewhat eerie look.

Set in a semi-rural town that's never specified, the play presents Tomei as Pony, a sensitive soul who likes nature and wants to start "using dandelions in salads." She's married to John, an oddball repairman who likes collecting pamphlets.

They move in next door to Letts' Bob, an idiosyncratic character who doesn't like that hot-air balloons are in "such bright colors." His wife is Collette's slightly manic Jennifer, who likes to look at the international foods at the grocery store ("It always calms me down, in a sort of churchy way.") All four characters' last name are Jones, hence half the title. As for the "realistic" part, that depends on what's real in your life.

Things that are rotten or breaking at their cores is a theme that seems to run through the play, from broken bags to lamps to careers. One of the characters suffers from a degenerative nerve disease and all four seem to sink further into a physical and mental funk over the play's 12 scenes. Infidelity is hinted at, but causes little ripples. Mostly, the characters simply stare up at the sky, suffering alone.

It's clear that all four hunger for human connection and to be understood, but that simply won't happen. Their language keeps them apart and even the simplest conversations become muddied non-sequiturs.

At one point Jennifer wants to thanks John for talking to her recently. "You made me feel better. And I remembered people can do that. That talking with someone can make you feel better."

To which, John replies: "What if, after you talk, the other person just stares back at you. With nothing in their heart."

Jennifer is aghast: "Are you saying that's what's happening now?"

"No," replies John.

That exchange pretty much sums up this play — funny, but more than a little maddening. Or it's just over our heads. Or maybe under it. Whatever. It's fun. Or maybe not fun, but definitely some other word.


New York Daily News: "The Realistic Joneses"

It’s funny how trying to connect with neighbors, spouses, God, whomever, can lead you nowhere.

Will Eno takes that idea and runs with it in “The Realistic Joneses,” an anxious comedy that packs rueful zingers, four first-rate starry performances and — buzzkill time, kids — diminishing returns for the entire second half.

In a woodsy suburb scented by pine trees and the oblique absurdism of Samuel Beckett and Edward Albee, two married couples with the same surname get acquainted.

Bob (Tracy Letts) and Jennifer (Toni Collette) are struggling to communicate, caused or exacerbated by his rare — and maybe fatal — illness. He’s angry. She’s over caregiving.

Into their backyard come John (Michael C. Hall) and Pony Jones (Marisa Tomei), energetic new neighbors who’ve arrived uninvited but bearing wine. We eventually find out that John suffers from the same condition as Bob. In a series of short scenes, the duos re-combine and reach out for solace, intimacy, understanding and more.

Between shared monikers and maladies, there’s a funhouse-mirror effect meant to unbalance. But the fuel of the play is quirky dialogue spiked with double-speak, contradictions and non sequiturs.

Such as when rudderless Pony declares: “I feel like I should go to med school or get my hair cut or something.”

Or when John tells Jennifer that he saw her “on the phone, crying, and eating a power bar. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s one sad busy person.’ ”

Beneath the clever lines the air is thick with tension, what with talk of illness, blood, a fetid fridge, a dead squirrel — and the unknown.

Under Sam Gold’s tight direction, the cast is natural and convincing. But three-quarters of an hour into the 95-minute show, the script simply circles without deepening, darkening or clarifying.

Eno, a 2005 Pulitzer finalist for “Thom Pain (based on nothing),” has a unique voice. His dark Off-Broadway fable of family dysfunction, “The Open House,” which wrapped last month, was impressive because it got more interesting when it shifted gears midway.

But in “Realistic Joneses,” his Broadway debut, the engine remains stuck in second. Keeping up with these Joneses quickly loses its appeal.

New York Daily News

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