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Keeping up with ‘The Realistic Joneses’

  • Henry Walters as John and Laura Carden as Jennifer in Firelight Theatre Workshop’s fall mainstage production of “The Realistic Joneses.” Courtesy Photo



The Reviewer’s Chair
Thursday, November 01, 2018 12:29AM

Will Eno’s “The Realistic Joneses” is precisely what it says on the tin and then some. It’s a realistic look into the lives of the two Jones families; Bob and Jennifer Jones – played by Jason Lambert and Laura Carden – who are settled and comfortable in their lives and their younger neighbors John and Pony Jones – played by Henry Walters and Nora Fiffer – who are eccentric and free spirited. Together, the two pairs find their lives intertwined as both Bob and John develop the same degenerative disease that takes more than just it’s tole by the end of the second act.

It’s a premise that’s relatively simple and owing to something filled with woe, and yes, it has its fair share, but it’s also incredibly funny and light hearted at times. The play opens with Bob and Jennifer Jones enjoying the night, bickering in the healthy bantering way folks who’ve been married for a while do, before they’re interrupted by their new neighbors John and Pony who were standing perfectly still behind their trashcan and watching them. These folks are odd, Bob and Jennifer see it, but they’re a charming couple and Jennifer and us as the audience immediately see something of Bob in John.

From this moment on, their lives are intertwined whether they like it or not. Jennifer runs into John at the grocery store; Bob and Pony grow close despite their separate oddities; the four of them share a life that’s predestined to end unhappily and as the play goes on they accept this together. Jennifer believes that she can heal Bob of the illness he’s ignoring, John thinks he can physically run away from it while Pony just fancies the symptoms some of her husband’s many peculiarities. In the end there is nothing that can be done, the Jonesesaren’t capable of stopping any of the bad things that happen in their lives, but they are plenty capable of accepting and continuing to live with them. Bad things happen to good people after all, and by all accounts these people are good, but fate certainly doesn’t seem to care.

This play is a peek through the blinds into the lives of these families and it more engaging than I had anticipated both in story and production quality. Firelight Theatre Workshop presents this show intimately, a bit of an inverse of theatre on the round where instead of the audience surrounding the actors on all sides, they surround us as we take our seats, quite literally, in the middle of the action. The lights tell us where to turn, the sounds tell us what to think, but the tremendous performances by this small and wonderful cast tells us how to feel. It’s as immersive as you can get without the threat of audience participation and handles topics of morality and fate through a lense of wit and humor that make even the darkest moments light in an instant. Unique in presentation and stirring in deliverance, “The Realistic Joneses” will spend time making you laugh and just as much making you care deeply. It’s pleasant, it’s unusual, above all; it’s not to be missed.

The show opened Oct. 25 and runs through Nov. 18 at the Guernsey Building, 70 Main St., Suite 204, Peterborough, NH. Tickets are $20 and free for Firelight Subscribers. For more information about Firelight Theatre Workshop or to purchase tickets go online to www.firelighttheatreworkshop.com.

Cheyenne Heinselman is an actress and a playwright, a member of the International Thespian Society Troupe #7883, as well as an avid and opinionated supporter of the arts.