All New People – Theatre Review

I’ve been putting off reviewing Zach Braff’s debut play All New People for a week now, scared to put into words just how underwhelmed it made me feel. All New People is a single act play set in a beach house in the middle of winter on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Charlie (Zach Braff) is taking advantage of the isolation in order to commit suicide but is interrupted by an English real estate agent (Eve Myles), a drug dealing fireman (Paul Hilton) and a high-class prostitute (Susannah Fielding).

From this set-up the four characters spend ninety minutes discussing life, the universe, and everything as they try to convince Charlie that life is worth living whilst revealing their own tragic backstories. Each character is given a brief filmed flashback, projected onto the stage, which shows a shocking event from their past. Sadly these felt a little unnecessary as details came out in dialogue later on and seeing recognisable British actors like Amanda Redman doing their best American drawl took me out of the play.

On the whole the acting was without fault, Braff in particular should be commended for not giving himself the spotlight the entire time; he did write the play after all. Instead Braff made the most of his rants and ensured that even when in the background he was subtly drawing attention his way. Eve Myles (of Torchwood fame) was better than I had expected but got off to a rough start as her attempts at “wacky comedy” came off as a little try-hard.

Sadly the play as a whole didn’t really hold together well. The four characters all seemed to have been designed to be as quirky as possible, the backstories we were waiting to discover were of little consequence when they were revealed. Myles’ character in particular had such a bizarre history that felt wholly out of place in the play, and considering the subject matter involved (which I will avoid mentioning) felt a little cheap and crass when mentioned in such a passing manner.

All New People‘s worst crime is being easily forgettable and inconsequential, sorry Zach. All New People is on at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 28th April and tickets are available online but your money would be much better spent buying Garden State on DVD.

3 thoughts on “All New People – Theatre Review

  1. So trying to be objective (which is difficult because you know I enjoyed it both times I saw it), I definitely agree that there were some big flaws in this.

    I actually felt like the two biggest problems were something that ANP had in common with Garden State – 1) Kim’s pre-taped sex interlude felt as out of place as the pornographic hotel room scene with Method Man in Garden State. It’s a scene I’ve always felt was unneccessary in Garden State and even after many years and many many viewings I don’t understand why it had to be there. And while at least in ANP the sex scene was on tape and we didn’t have to watch it being acted out on stage, I don’t feel like there was really any need for it. 2) All of the drugs. I can see how it was played for comedy in both ANP and GS but I just feel like…eh.

    I agree about the background of Eve Myles’s character – I wasn’t expecting it and if it was going to go that way, I think it needed longer spent on it.

    But in general I did really enjoy it. I thought the parts that were supposed to be funny were funny, particularly the physical comedy parts that anybody who’s ever seen Scrubs knows that Zach knows how to do. I liked the story that was being told, I just feel like there were a few things that could have been tightened up or thought through better. In a lot of ways it reminded me of that Jeff Goldblum play we saw – though I think I enjoyed ANP more.

    I would go and see it again actually, but mainly it served to make me want to dig out my Garden State DVD. Which I did. But then didn’t watch it.

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  2. don’t you mean Garden state on BLU-RAY, given that it just came out two weeks ago. Ouch, another negative review. Seeing this on the 23rd. Here’s hoping they’ve ironed out a few kinks by then.

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  3. Also, I’ve been having thoughts since yesterday.

    I actually came away from the play (the first time) thinking “Well, I think people who liked Garden State will enjoy that”, which clearly isn’t necessarily the case. But to me it was very similar tonally if not in plot.

    It makes me wonder exactly how much the music in Garden State affected how much it succeeded at being a good film. I think it might have been a lot more than I gave it credit for.

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