People can be fragile. Marriages can be fragile. Life is fragile. These are the themes of this multi-layered lovely little work about two couples who happen to be named Jones. One couple are lifelong residents of the small town where they live and work; the other couple have just moved there—ostensibly because they wanted to live in a small town with a sense of community.
This is a lovely show that is a heartbreaking, funny and ultimately joyous testament to the courage of people who brave the fragility to forge connections.
It’s not that simple. Bob, deep in denial and self-ignorance, has a serious, degenerative medical condition. His wife, Jennifer, is a practical lady who believes in knowing as much information as possible and manages her husband’s illness and their lives. The new neighbors, John and Pony Jones, have a secret. It turns out that John has the same illness and may be keeping it from his wife to protect her.
Over the course of a few weeks, the couples meet individually and as couples. Their interactions are full of misunderstandings and connections, often both at the same time. Both couples are isolated and yet drawn to each other. As played by the four actors, their interactions are so believable it makes you ache for the fumbling efforts of humans in general to connect.
Lisa Hodsoll plays Jennifer as a tired, lonely woman, trapped in a caretaker role and missing her husband. She does a lovely job of portraying both her love and rage. As her husband Bob, Todd Scofield brings a searing vulnerability to a man who can’t face what is happening and doesn’t know how to just be a friend and husband again. He is totally befuddled at times, inappropriate at others, and amazingly wise at a few key moments. His character shows the most growth.
As Pony, Amanda Forstrom faces an uphill battle. This child-woman is immature, needy in the extreme, and appallingly self-absorbed. Yet, in an odd way, this is what her husband, John (a searing Brandon McCoy) needs, just as she needs him. They do a remarkable job of portraying a marriage that doesn’t make any sense to an outsider, yet these two damaged souls work together.
Director Gillian Drake doesn’t let the action tip over the edge into utter pathos. She is very aware of the complexity of human emotions from moment to moment and gives the actors space to explore them all.
Scenic designer Giorgos Tsappas provides a very understated and rustic set with just a few logs, a fire pit (one audience member was so enamored of it, she took a picture after the show) and two raised platforms that are the decks of both houses. He has created a little forest of tree trunks that manage to convey a sense of the outdoors and a small, quiet town at the same time.
Lighting designer Alberto Segarra and sound designer Gordon Nimmo-Smith provide the perfect ambience for the set. You can almost feel the cooler evenings setting in and the bird sounds are soothing and timeless.
This is a lovely show that is a heartbreaking, funny, and ultimately joyous testament to the courage of people who brave the fragility to forge connections.
Running Time: One hour and 50 minutes with no intermission.
“The Realistic Joneses”’ runs through April 5, 2020 at Spooky Action Theater, 1810 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC. For more information, click here.