On a nearly deserted Long Beach Island, New Jersey in the middle of winter, 35 year old Charlie (Scrubs star Zach Braff) prepares to take his own life in his friend’s luxury apartment. At the key moment, he’s interrupted by ditzy and eccentric British estate agent Emma (Torchwood’s Eve Myles), who proceeds to chide him for his efforts and interrogate him for his reasons.
With the help of her drug dealing fireman friend (Paul Hilton) and an ‘escort’ (Susannah Fielding, who you may recognise from Doctor Who’s Victory of the Daleks), dark secrets gradually float to the surface.
Written by Braff in his stage debut, All New People takes black comedy to a whole new level, taking dark aspects of personality and society and drawing out the funniest moments of each. We’re treated to a wide array of issues usually reserved for a more serious play, though this adds to the successful deliverance of the show as you don’t expect it to reach the levels it does.
The drama is split up occasionally by pre-recorded video scenes delving into the back-story of each character, helping to explain their reasons for being where they are. Although the scenes help to break up the play, which takes place in one location without an interval, I couldn’t help but feel that they didn’t quite fit naturally and as such, felt too forced. They’re certainly not helped by the occasional distracting cameo (hello, random New Tricks star!).
The character histories could’ve come out without having to resort to showing it visually, especially with Charlie’s revelation, where the video’s literal reenactment seemed to detract from the emotion of the scene.
Eve Myles stole the show for me, delivering such an eclectic mix of comedy, drama and despair that we really don’t know what to expect next. Instantly loveable, her character was incredibly entertaining; despite a number of lines that didn’t quite fit with the rest of her character.
All New People is a very funny, very emotional play. That said, there are times where you can tell it was written with a broad American style of comedy in mind (someone slipping on beads isn’t even funny the first time), jarring particularly with moments where Braff subtly tries (and fails) to insert well-worn political statements into the dialogue.
What did you think of All New People? Let us know below…
Watch a video report from the play’s press night…