Tuesday, July 31, 2018

THE REALISTIC JONESES • Rebel And Misfits Productions

When Bob (Alan Knoll) and Jennifer (Laurie McConnell) meet their new neighbors, John (Isaiah Di Lorenzo) and Pony (Kelly Hummert), it would seem the only thing they have in common is the last name, “Jones.” But as these couples get caught up in each other's orbits and learn of each other's sorrows, playwright Will Eno finds a striking balance between laugh-out-loud humor and disquieting melancholy. You'd be hard-pressed to find a play that speaks so fluently to the human inclination towards connection by way of such disjointed tangles of inelegant conversation than Rebel and Misfits' sharp, St. Louis premiere production.

Bob and Jennifer, lounging in their backyard taking a stab at small talk, are interrupted by the noisy arrival of John and Pony who come over to introduce themselves -- wine bottle in hand. Pony -- affable, fragile and dizzy, explains that she’s always wanted to live in a small town near the mountains in a way that’s just short of “valleyspeak”, while John has non sequitur-filled, slightly contentious exchanges with Bob, who’s quietly imploding and over the unannounced visit pretty quickly. The communication that this foursome engages in as they become more acquainted comes with an awkwardness that hangs in the air, but it also grows to include an intimacy grounded in isolation, love and fear that’s slyly situated just beyond the banter.

John (Isaiah Di Lorenzo), Pony (Kelly Hummert),
(background) Jennifer (Laurie McConnell) and Bob (Alan Knoll).
Photo credit: Eric Woolsey
Jennifer is the grounded one, trying her best to bear the weight of her husband’s degenerative disease with stoic caregiving and quiet desperation. Pony has no stomach for the harsh realities of life, and John, in his increasingly distracted way, tries to protect her with clumsy reassurances. Bob covers for his diminishing capabilities with deadpan humor, but is still able to catch glints of gratitude. 

Edward Coffield gracefully directs a uniformly excellent cast with a sharp ear for Eno’s sporadic, offbeat rhythms, lending an engaging naturalism to the dialogue. Well-suited for the cozy theatre space at the J, with creative contributions that enhance the play’s sensibilities, The Realistic Joneses uniquely navigates life’s lowest valleys with laughter and sadness doled out in equal measure -- oddly uplifting and lingering, and it’d be a shame to miss it.

Jennifer (Laurie McConnell) and Bob (Alan Knoll).
Photo credit: Eric Woolsey

Written by Will Eno
Directed by Edward M. Coffield
Marvin & Harlene Wool Studio, 2 Millstone Campus Drive Creve Coeur
through August 12 | tickets: $40 - $45
Performances Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm

Jennifer: Laurie McConnell*
John: Isaiah Di Lorenzo
Bob: Alan Knoll*
Pony: Kelly Hummert*

Pony (Kelly Hummert)
and John (Isaiah Di Lorenzo).
Photo credit: Eric Woolsey
Stage Manager: Alycia Martin
Assistant Director: Rachel Roberts
Scenic Designer: Peter and Margery Spack
Lighting Designer: Jon Ontiveros
Sound Designer: Ellie Schwetye
Technical Director: Joe Novak
Board Operator and Master Electrician: Jerran Kowalski
Photographer: Eric Woolsey

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

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