His new bump-up-in-life — "Broadway playwright" — was still settling in. "In one way, I don't feel any different," he admitted, "just because most of the people that I work with here are people I've worked with before so that's been a very familiar process to work in that very quiet, steady serious way with really lovely fun people.
"So that's the same, but the size of the house is different. There will be 800 people there, and I won't recognize a soul, and that's a different thing from when I was starting out doing plays and I would recognize every single person in the audience, and I would be thinking, 'Oh, now I have to go see their thing next weekend.'"
Eno figured he has written five or six Off-Broadway plays — the latest being The Open House, which closed at the Signature two days before it received a Lortel nomination for Best Play. There was nothing about The Realistic Joneses, he confessed, that particularly screamed Broadway to him. "I've never thought of my plays in that categorization. I've just tried to write plays that were about people and about life as I know it and the world as I know it. I know the cast that we have, really responded to the play right off the bat and were interested in doing it, and that of course was really, really helpful in putting this together. There's a logic to the play for me, and I think the actors have all found that logic. It hasn't been easy, and they've worked very hard, but it's a clear line for them. To me, I can really feel and see it."
Toni Collette, returning to Broadway for the first time since The Wild Party 14 years ago, said she sees her Jennifer as the most realistic of The Realistic Joneses. "She's the most clear. She spends her life taking care of her husband, puts other people first, has a real sense of compassion, and, to be honest, seems to be the most sensible."
The constant chatter that seems to be going nowhere wasn't a problem for her. "When something is written well, it's actually not difficult to memorize. I think there's a clarity to this, something very accessible — not only to us but to anyone seeing it or reading it — and, when something has truth to it, it's easy to absorb.
"I just relate to the way Will Eno sees life, I think, which is very much a part of this play. It's called The Realistic Joneses, and it does reflect life in a very real way — or the way I see it, anyway. It's just so beautiful the way the play tackles the big, deep, kinda confronting parts of life, as well as the mundane, banal everyday-ness. It kinda tiptoes and transverses through them, and the balance is so lovely. It's very funny, and it's also very moving. It's very, very difficult to do that. I think Will's a genius."
Marisa Tomei as Collette's younger counterpart, the airhead Pony, is more than a one-trick-Pony in her rather unorthodox Good Neighbor policy, Tomei contended, offering as proof: "Well, I do have a line in the play that says 'the other night' and 'the other morning' so maybe about four times — maybe one too many for her taste."
She was very pleased to be part of this ensemble effort. "I think we all feel very lucky to be in Will's play. We love his writing. We respect him deeply. He's got a lot to say about the human condition. There's a great philosophy — and heart — and point of view—behind what he's trying to say. And there's a lot of laughter — some ba-dum-dum jokes, some jokes about the messes we find ourselves in. The title is a reflection of keeping up with the Jones and what kind of treadmill are we on with that."
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