The realistic Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses

Will Eno's Chekhovian comedy at Third Rail hovers in the mortal zone: It's only love, and that is all. Why do they feel the way they do?

There they are, the four of them, up in some little town near the mountains, sitting outside, breathing the crisp air, chattering maybe pointlessly or maybe not, grating on one another’s nerves, watching their lives slowly slip away.

And, yes, it’s a comedy.

The Realistic Joneses, Will Eno’s circuitous and allusive play that opened Friday night at Third Rail Rep, is a sort of Chekhov of the suburbs, or more accurately of the forgotten corners of small-town America, a play of puzzled emotions and ambitions so far lost that they can’t quite be put into words anymore. What was that I wanted to do and be, again, before life interrupted?

All Jones, all the time: Green, O'Connell, Pierce, Ryan. Photo: Owen Carey

All Jones, all the time: Green, O’Connell, Pierce, Ryan. Photo: Owen Carey

As with Chekhov, nothing much happens in The Realistic Joneses, and the world shifts. The play begins with one of those funny-awkward encounters. Bob and Jennifer Jones are sitting outside on their patio chairs, involved in what seems their ordinary game of forced cheerfulness (on her part) and passive aggression (on his) when the clatter of an overturning garbage can sounds offstage and John and Pony burst around the corner, all cheery and bearing a bottle of wine. They’re the new neighbors, and, wouldn’t you know it, they’re the Joneses, too.

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