Written by 12:51 am Costa Mesa, Laguna beach, Laguna Playhouse, Review, Theater, Uncategorized

Say What’s Real : The Realistic Joneses @ Laguna Playhouse – Review

PHOTO CREDIT: Veronica Slavin

Written by Patrick Chavis

What is real? Is there such a thing as something more real than real? Watching shows like The Realistic Joneses, playing now at the Laguna Playhouse for a short run from April 26 – May 14, makes you question what we take for granted as real. It’s jarring and done simply through language and minimal setting.

The Realistic Joneses is about two suburban couples who coincidentally share the same last name, Jones. It’s not the weirdest thing to ever happen. Jones is a common last name. It’s not the most common, but it’s up there, I reckon. I knew a Jones family growing up. The play chronicles different moments and exchanges between two couples John (Conor Lovett) & Pony (Faline England) Jones and Jennifer (Sorcha Fox) & Bob (Joe Spano) Jones, together and separately, and we learn more about them in this slice-of-life style play.

We often lean towards the exciting bits of life in our media and visual storytelling. We have to live with the mundane every day, so when I watch a play or a film, I want to see something more dynamic. In playwriting, there is this idea that we want to display truth onstage. So even though the mundane can be boring and tedious, to deny it and leave it out of our stories is to deny an important truth about who we are. In The Realistic Joneses, Eno doesn’t run from the mundane. He meets it head-on and finds the humor and absurdity. This play’s biggest weakness is also its strength. The dialogue is king in this show, and it’s engaging enough to hold your interest but also realistic enough that it’s easy to be just as confused as the actors on stage. The play is trying to communicate we live in a world where we are constantly misunderstood. Still, as an artist, we are trying to create stories people can understand. There lies the contradiction. So much of life isn’t clearly understood on a consistent basis.

The set design is minimal and dark. Besides the phones, nothing was a distraction from the actors. The lighting from Simon Bennison did the best job of keeping the focus on the characters on the large but bare Laguna Playhouse stage. The unique placement of the actors walking into the audience and talking on separate sides of the theater was a welcome and interesting direction choice.
Some scripts can get away with a shaky performance or maybe something more one-note. That’s not the case with this script. All four actors were engaged and invested in their characters. Conor Levett’s portrayal of John is humorous in a dry way and relatable in each of his encounters on stage.
Faline England going from happy and neighborly to tense and confused – that was more real than real.
Go down to Laguna Beach for this challenging, well-mounted play.

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Good Show! OCR Recommended! April 26 – May 14, 2023

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