by Shirley Lorraine
Rubicon’s Realistic Joneses Hits Home
Prepare for a few jolts as you experience The Realistic Joneses now playing in a limited engagement at the Rubicon Theatre in downtown Ventura. The Rubicon, known for breaking new ground and presenting thoughtful and intriguing works, has hit another home run with this production.
The Southern California Premiere, presented in association with Gare St. Lazare Ireland and the Laguna Playhouse features a stellar professional cast of four. Rubicon returnees Joe Spano and Faline England, accompanied by acclaimed actors Sorcha Fox and Conor Lovett, pull the audience into their world tightly packed with trials and tribulations, emotional roller coasters and physical and mental challenges.
Presented with no intermission, we meet Bob and Jennifer, a suburban couple coping with Bob’s gradual disintegration due to a progressive neurological affliction. They cope the best they can, moment by moment. As Bob, Spano delivers the plays’ most humorous moments with thoughtful sincerity and an air of innocence. In the role of his patient and loving wife Jennifer, Sorcha Fox is immediately identifiable as she embodies the often-thankless caretaker role. She carries the weight and resignation of facing the unknown in her vocal and physical presence throughout.
New neighbors John and Pony (Conor Lovett and Faline England) make an unexpected appearance which leads the four into uncharted territories. They gradually reveal similarities that pull them together. The crux of this play, for me, was the impact of the unfailing power of those things left unsaid that compel us to meet challenges in different ways. All four characters are deeply ingrained in denial, acceptance, sadness and routines that enable them to cope with the realities facing them. It is not the challenges themselves, but how we cope with meeting those challenges that make up the realities of our lives. In my opinion, the author truly captured the nuances of those frailties.
The Realistic Joneses is a powerful piece of work written by Will Eno that has been nominated for numerous awards, and rightly so. Directed with a fine hand by Judy Hegarty-Lovett, it is performed with unusual staging touches that bring the audience fully into becoming an integral part of the story. I left the theater feeling as though I knew the families and wanted to somehow help them as they coped with the undeniable challenges that lay ahead.
Rubicon consistently delivers meaningful works that make us reflect. The Realistic Joneses is filled with pathos, and most effectively, humor. Whether we laugh in recognition or with empathy, humor really does heal the soul and makes many dark moments tolerable. This work gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own things unsaid and how we might approach them with knowledge and acceptance.
The Realistic Joneses is presented through February 12, after which it will travel to enrich the Laguna Playhouse attendees. Try and catch it if you can.