Sunday, April 6, 2014

THE REALISTIC JONESES: Some Neighbors Are Anything But Ordinary

The Realistic Jones is the story of two sets of neighbors, both named Jones. Jennifer (Toni Collette) and Bob (Tracy Letts) Jones live a pretty bland existence until Pony (Marisa Tomei) and John (Michael C. Hall) Jones move down the block. Their lives become intertwined over drinks in the backyard, a fainting spell, and a surprising affair.

Will Eno's text sparkles with witty banter and nuanced repartee as the vibrant characters interact and feed off of one another. Though the plot itself is rather mundane, Eno's dialogue pops and sizzles. This emphasis on dialogue over plot brings the most basic of human behaviors to the forefront. We don't have thrilling adventures everyday, but we all express our thoughts and feelings with others. He plays with social boundaries and even the generation gap as the younger Pony and John open up to their new neighbors and begin divulging personal information immediately, while the older Jennifer and Bob stick to small talk before anything serious comes up.

Tracy Letts is a standout as Bob. Even more impressive is the fact that he is an award winning playwright, yet he still finds time to focus on the craft of acting. His deadpan delivery gets every laugh and aside from a questionable moral compass, you will still find yourself feeling invested in him as a character. Marisa Tomei steals the show as the flighty Pony. Her portrayal teeters on the edge of nailing it and going too far, though she always manages to stay on the former side. She is just so honest and endearing that even though she seems like she could be from another planet, you can still imagine her living just on the other side of your picket fence.

Clocking in at just around 90 minutes, this one-act play is a thoroughly enjoyable night at the theatre. It features the best writing, play or musical, on Broadway this season. Be prepared to laugh, but you'll need to pay attention, because this isn't cheap humor. This is a well-crafted play and you'll be hearing the title many times during the upcoming awards season, so get used to it.

If you really want to keep up with the Joneses, stop in at my new favorite bar in Midtown for a pre- or post-show cocktail. "The Lantern's Keep" is a tiny speakeasy located in the Iroquois NY hotel at 49 W 44th street. This is not your typical lobby lounge, but rather a unique little hideaway that will take you back nearly 100 years. "The Lantern's Keep" features a plethora of creative specialty cocktails, though I would highly recommend The Glass House. I promise you won't be disappointed. 

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