If you walk into Will Eno's play "The Realistic Joneses" expecting a neatly explained plot or clearly defined character arcs, you will be disappointed. Like his "Thom Pain (based on nothing)," a Pulitzer Prize finalist a decade ago, this play is about communicating when you don't have all the tools of conversation.
In the hands of director Joel Sass and a talented quartet of actors at Park Square Theatre, it's a funny, dark and even moving experience.
In an unnamed American small town, two neighboring couples get to know each other. Apart from their shared last names and geographic location, there doesn't seem to be much to connect them. None is great at conversation. They have lots of opening lines, but no follow-up.
Over the course of 100 minutes, we learn little about the specifics of the lives of Jennifer and Bob or Pony and John, but plenty about the hopes and fears that make them tick. A lot of that is down to the actors, who make us feel those emotions even if the chat is about free samples at a grocery store.
JC Cutler and Angela Timberman have the easy chemistry of a longtime couple, even if their relationship is in rough seas. Eric "Pogi" Sumangil and Jane Froiland present a younger couple possibly on the same course. Under Sass' steady direction, the quartet deftly negotiates Eno's script, which — like Harold Pinter — hides its meaning beneath the words and conveys more through an awkward pause than a 10-page monologue.
Ed Huyck is a Twin Cities theater critic.