Jonas' "Capture Now," more Dylan than Devo, is a lyrical passage on loan from the mumbling bard's body of work, but is as clear and heartfelt as poetry between bonded brothers can be.
The one-man show of many hearts — in which the writer also stars — opens Oct. 22 off-Broadway at the Theaters on Bleecker Street. But amid the mist of a bleak subtext — in which the much-younger brother's persistent headaches head to an inconsolable climax — is that ineffable internecine connection in which music mutates from art to artful, an arrangement of sibling revelry racing to the finish line.
It is only the beginning for Jonas, a young Jewish playwright whose previous works of "Elvis Savant" and "No-Hitter" serve as bunts for the smash of the soul that this new one is.
Subtitled a "Long Island tale," this innovative, insightful drama dregs up the longing one has for a forever-family, one untouched by sickness and sadness, an impossible dream that would have unseated Don Quixote and sacked his Sancho Panza amid the windmills of their wants.
With a nice, rather than nefarious, Jewish family at its core — so nice for a change — "Capture Now" captures those crimes of the heart that hurtle us toward not appreciating what we have in front us before it's too late. The playwright — who claims his one-act drama is fictional — offers the anti-family feud, a kiss on the lips to what we know we should feel as relatives reigned in all under one roof.
"I had never attempted anything of this magnitude," says the 33-year-old writer, who was based in Los Angeles at the time, "and had no intention to write such a play."
But history can play tricks on the mind, and with the advent of Sept. 11 — just two weeks after he was to make a new life moving from the New York area to L.A. — all the world, or at least that bounded by Ground Zero, became his emotional stage.
Friends of the family "lost their son to 9/11," and its grave consequences stuck with him. "I had never seen anyone bury their child before."
"Capture Now" is a Kaddish for that connection, and the impact of seeing a son lost to social savagery unnerved the undeniably changed writer. "I have a younger brother — we're 13 years apart — and it's a wonderful unique relationship that borders on the parental.
"I was an awkward kid, not really getting along with others my age, and I attached myself to him. It was a special relationship, and this play is a love letter to him."
It is one sealed with sincerity and filial finesse, giving the heart a hechsher of hope. And "Capture Now" encases a caseful of Jewish moxie, a shout-out to a people's pride that draws a fine line between present-day family and future generations.
The play's Jewishness? "It's what I am," says the playwright simply, sweetly. "I've always liked the way I am; I was the only Jewish kid in the public schools I went to. And I really liked that."
Like it or not, that feeling fires up his fine drama. "Any time you can put Jews and Jewish life in a play in a positive way, that's cool, a good thing."
The Martha Stewart of ethnicity? Only if she rocks and roils. Someone once said, he says, "that all art aspires to a level of mu- sic, and I believe that," adds the daydream believer whose high school days were serenaded by the sounds of Dylan and the Who, "my favorite band ever."
Who is this new playwright then, one with astounding promise and a predilection for using music as his muse? In capturing the Now, he was also a prisoner of his prose — but only in the best way possible: "When I wrote it, I stopped doing everything else."
Stopped in the name of love: Dedicating the play to his own brother, shutting out the outside noise of a noisome world to do it.
The author of "No-Hitter" just may have a hit on his hands in what he himself considers a double play: A drama that extends the baselines to become "a 'Field of Dreams' for brothers."
And like a team headed toward a pennant, this pen-in-hand reporter of life's problems and peccadilloes is on a tear. "This big guy came up to me after one performance with tears in his eyes. He said to me, 'This play will help a lot of people.' "
And maybe heal them, too. Which, ponders the creator of these crafted theatrical Jonas brothers, "is kind of cool."