By Tim Treanor
DC Theatre Scene
There is out there, and then there is Will Eno. An interviewer once asked him one of those personality-in-a-nutshell questions. If you could pick any superpower for yourself, he asked the playwright, which one would you select?
“The former Soviet Union,” Eno replied.
The ways by which words are commodified, commercialized, weaponized and manipulated are Eno’s stock in trade. Thus, in The Flu Season, a doctor tells parents how to get to the place which holds their dead daughter’s body. “Turn right at the giant ice cream cone,” he says. In Thom Pain (based on nothing) the solitary narrator tells a series of bizarre stories, each of them impossible on their own terms. (“‘You’ve changed!’ she told me on the night we met.”)
And in The Realistic Joneses, now being given a vigorous and thoughtful production at Spooky Action Theater on 16th Street NW, Bob Jones (Todd Scofield), Jennifer Jones (Lisa M. Hodsoll), John Jones (Brandon McCoy) and Pony Jones (Amanda Forstrom) use words in order not to communicate with each other. Provided with an opportunity to open their hearts, they trivialize their lives instead. Jennifer asks her husband, Bob, who is critically ill, whether he would like to talk. Bob points out that he just talked about repainting the house. Pony admires Bob and Jennifer’s salt and pepper shakers; Bob replies that “they were made in a factory.”