“The Realistic Joneses” Presented by New Century Theatre Company

Two couples living quiet lives away from the hurly burley of urban existence meet, have some strained conversations, reveal a few personal facts, and simply muddle through life. That’s it! That’s “The Realistic Joneses” in a nutshell. Charles Isherwood in the New York Times called the New York production “wonderful and weird.” Like oysters, it’s an acquired taste.

You’ll find no flashy denouements, no shockers. It’s just a play about four people trying to communicate, trying to rise above the fears, loneliness, boredom, and mundane realities of everyday life. Playwright Will Eno has crafted a meditation on contemporary existence. The only fireworks are distant and scarcely visible remnants from a celebration that these four characters note only in passing.

The Seattle production of “The Realistic Joneses,” directed by Paul Budraitis, plays out on Andrea Bryn Bush’s fascinating set. The two couples live in the foothills below a mountain town. Here the town is composed of toy houses high above a raw wood wall whose sliding panels delineate the homes of each couple. It’s minimalist yet effective. The set is almost as sparse as the lives playing out on stage, and the lighting by Evan Christian Anderson effectively reinforces mood and locale.

It’s a play about the loneliness and the mundane realities that are part of all of our lives. No matter, we just keep going on, surviving or attempting to. We reach out to others; we bring humor into our lives just as the people in this play do.

Sunam Ellis, Brenda Joyner, Peter Dylan O’Connor, and Evan Whitfield are most effective in capturing the playwright’s message—though life can be made miserable by illness, unhappiness, or meaninglessness, we all go on. We all carry loneliness but most of us continually rise above it.

Playwright Will Eno has been accused of absurdist intellectual humor. If that’s the sort of mind candy that pleases your taste, this is a show you will really enjoy. But if you prefer something a little lighter, take a pass.

Through July 1 at 12th Ave. Arts, 1620 12th Ave., Seattle, (253 906-3348 or www.wearenctc.org).

Leave a Reply