- Chris O'Rourke
Dublin Theatre Festival 2022: The Realistic Joneses
The Realistic Joneses. Image by Ross Kavanagh
Life makes reflections of us all. We're all essentially the same. Differences are only skin deep. A notion given poetic licence in Will Eno's fascinating, if somewhat durational, The Realistic Joneses. Like much in The Realistic Joneses the title relies on clever word play. Trying to get at something you can sometimes miss. Crafting another way of looking at things. All delivered with desert dry humour, wonderfully directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett
Its premise is simple. Two couples, each containing an Irish and American, each called Jones, each dealing with an illness, meet one night under the stars. So begins the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Well, not beautiful so much as tolerated. The curmudgeonly Bob (Joe Spano) and his rock of sense wife Jennifer (Sorcha Fox) find that when it comes to their new neighbours, a sickly John (Conor Lovett) and his germ free wife Pony (Faline England), that they have everything and nothing in common. Over a series of conversations everything and nothing changes, leaving us right back where we started, only at an entirely different place. Closer, yet ever apart.
Given this is Gare St. Lazare Ireland, a Beckettian absurdism melded to much talk minus grand actions, all steeped in durational drag, shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Even as Eno's smart and smarting humour can be more suggestive of Seinfeld rather than Beckett. If realistic resonances give a sense of reality, the really real is theatre. A place where truth often lies in subtext, the unsaid, the seen unseen. Such as a lack of physical connectedness that's almost visceral, choreographed beautifully by Hegarty Lovett, underscoring Eno's evocative dialogue. A tension seen in key moments as when removing a piece of styrofoam, arms resting on shoulders, a hand held creating fleeting or lingering connections that can seem shockingly out of place. Like the radio that almost connects them to the larger world, before returning them to their shared, cozy insularity. It's scary out there beyond The Realistic Joneses. It's more comfortable where little happens. A little long, leaning heavily into the non-dramatic, but comfortable.
The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno, presented by Gare St Lazare Ireland, in association with Rubicon Theatre Company and Laguna Playhouse, runs as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2022 at Smock Alley Theatre till October 16.
For more information visit Dublin Theatre Festival 2022