PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: The Realistic Joneses — Well, You Know Eno

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07 Apr 2014

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Hall, aka TV's "Dexter," was getting back into theatre harness after a protracted intermission of several years. "That's the longest that I've gone without being on stage in my life, in as much as my first play was when I was six years old, and it's been about seven years since I did my last play for Roundabout — Mr. Marmalade — in between shooting the pilot and the first season proper of 'Six Feet Under.'"

At first, he found the Eno talk a tad daunting. "There were bits and pieces that were challenging in as much as these people communicated in non sequiturs from time to time, so if you tried to just follow the thought it was hard. But ultimately, no. I think Will's language has a logic all its own, but, once you click into that logic, it really all makes sense. It's so fun to have these words to say. To get that feedback from the audience every night — there's really nothing like it. It's invigorating.

"I think it's very funny all the way through, but I think it sneaks up on you on that other front and leaves you with a sense of mystery, and that's what I love about it."

As for the sickness that infects his character late into the play, Hall did crack a few books about it. "This is a fictional condition, but it's based on some real neurological conditions that people have," the actor was quick to point out. "I looked around. I read some about seizures and their aftermath. It was kinda wide open what we could do. I just tried to be specific as I could be about what his particular symptoms were, and where they affected him and how they affected his body and his head."

Letts was of a different mind about the malady. Simply put: "I think the illness Will talks about could be called dying, so it didn't pay to get too specific about symptoms. I love this play not only because it's very funny and it's great fun to do a new comedy, but I love it because there's a real heart and a real humanity at the center of it. There's no reason to do it without that. That Will has written an original American comedy is a thing to be celebrated. It's 90 minutes long, and, after August: Osage County and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, it's a real pleasure to do a 90-minute-long intermission-less play — that's another thing I like about it."

Yet another is the fact that he gets to play the crank in the group. "I think the edge comes with the actor. I don't know if I can get rid of it. One of the fun things about this guy is that he's grumpy, and that's fun to play. He's also a man of few words, and, after playing George in Virginia Woolf?, I don't mind a man of few words."

Letts, who picked up the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony for writing August: Osage County, just finished a new play. "I don't have a production lined up for it yet. It's called The Scavenger's Daughter. It's about the death of the Great Man — capital G, capital M."

Director Gold helmed the world premiere of The Realistic Joneses at Yale Rep. "I've been working on the play for a number of years. Will gave it to me when he was just starting to write it. I'm a huge fan of Will's. I'd follow him anywhere and do anything he wrote. It has been a great pleasure of being a part of this as he developed it."

Next for him: "I start a play on the 22nd called The Village Bike. It's for MCC at the Lortel. It's by Penelope Skinner. She's a Brit. It's her first experience in New York."


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