Even with a cast comprised of no less than Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Marisa Tomei and Tracy Letts, it was a risky move to bring “The Realistic Joneses,” the latest drama by the experimental, extremely divisive playwright Will Eno, to Broadway following its premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre.
Although the play, which revolves around the awkward interactions of two suburban couples, is considerably more accessible and humorous than Eno’s earlier works (“Thom Pain,” “The Open House”), it remains a strange and static piece that is more likely than not to test the patience of mainstream theatergoers.
The title refers to the fact that both couples have the last name of “Jones.” There’s John Jones (Hall) and Pony Jones (Tomei), who just moved into the neighborhood and are trying to be friendly, and Jennifer Jones (Collette) and Bob Jones (Letts), who are stressed out due to Bob’s continuing illness.
Eno presents an intriguing, introspective exploration of the breakdown of communication in contemporary married life and the consequent feelings of depression. His language has a distinctive rhythm of punch lines and pauses.
But due to the lack of plot and conflict, it loses steam after 45 minutes, which leaves another 45 minutes of purely downbeat conversation. As one character puts it, this is a show full of “normal people just sitting and thinking.” It would also work far better in a more intimate space.
But as directed by Sam Gold (no doubt the hottest director in town at this time), the impressive cast offers highly developed and nuanced performances.
If you go:
“The Realistic Joneses” plays at the Lyceum Theatre through July 6. 149 W. 45th St., telecharge.com.