Having spent more hours of my life than I can possibly justify soaking up the gently surreal charms of US medical sitcom 'Scrubs', I have nothing but fondness for the show's erstwhile star Zach Braff, who seems to be a genuine good egg and – on the strength of 2005 indie flick 'Garden State' – a talented screenwriter/director.
So I genuinely wanted to like 'All New People', his debut play – which received fair notices on its off-Broadway premiere –especially now Braff himself has joined its West End cast. Unfortunately, Peter Dubois's production of this clunky play is clumsy, heartless and loud: so very, very loud.
On a leaden winter's day at a luxurious Long Beach Island, NJ, holiday home, Braff's troubled Charlie decides to hang himself with some electrical cord. Fortunately (or not) a series of very noisy, painfully one-dimensional strangers (Eve Myles's impossibly highly strung letting agent, Emma; Paul Hilton's drug-soaked fireman, Myron; Susannah Fielding's ditzy escort, Kim) barge in and attempt to persuade Charlie that life is worth living, etcetera, etcetera.
Hilton wrenches a bit of grizzly pathos out of Myron's unlikely backstory, but there is little nuance in this trio of clamorously turbocharged performances. Meanwhile, gifted comic actor Braff has bizarrely assigned himself the role of moody-guy-who-stands-in-the-background-looking-moody.
Dubois's direction fails to modulate or moderate the tone in any way, and although there are a couple of laughs to be had, there is next to no charm. It feels like a shrill, hysterically over-egged sitcom pilot: by the end I longed for Justin, the imaginary unicorn from 'Scrubs', to appear and restore some dignity to proceedings.
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Average User Rating
3.4 / 5
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Brash, sexist, not very funny, pointless. My partner fell asleep (no mean feat with all the noisy shouting) and i longed for the interval so we could leave (there isn't one). The sheer goodwill shown by the Braff-loving audience was the only thing that kept this chugging along. For the rest of us the money would be better spent on a bit of decent theatre rather than a rather shaeful vanity project.
I was absolutely bowled over by this play. The bad reviews from critics, and journalists has really got me puzzled. My other half an I couldn't have had a better night, the comedy was pure genius. We were laughing out loud from start to just before the very end (where it gets a little serious). It's incredibly well cast, with (surprisingly) Zach taking the least 'funny' role out of all four characters. Kim and Emma really set the stage alight, but it's the interaction between all four that really make the comedy work. Ignore the 'conservative' critism, this is something a little different to what you get in the west end by todays standards. We'll definitely be returning to watch this again before April 28th. Pure genius, excellently written and genuinely funny from start to finish.
It felt like they had tried to find the Scrubs formula - funny in parts but moving in others, but missed it on both counts. Most of the jokes are obvious and just not that funny, the meant-to-be moving bits are rushed over and forgotten about, steamrollered by another lame joke.
Its lots of fun, some laugh out loud moments 'HOME ALONE' and Paul Hilton is genuinely scene stealing http://nexttotheaisle.blogspot.com/2012/03/all-new-people.html
Loved the play. Eve Myles was mesmerising and we were gripped from the first second to the last. Charles Spencer was spot on with his review!
I enjoyed this, thought it was funny, liked the movie flashbacks, performances were all great, it wasn't earth-shattering, but then was it trying to be? I doubt it. The central character's flashback seemed a bit contrived, but I think that's probably my only criticism of it. It is what it is.
This is an example of don't believe the hype. Braff has clear moments of genius as shown in Garden State but his ability to adapt his writing skills to stage leaves so much to be desired. We have four stereotypes on stage, the angry/sad guy, the crazy funny guy, the escort and the spiffing scatty British girl. Braff is capable of more with his characters so it depressed me to watch this unravel - a loose and improbable narrative and some overacting in the first stages made you feel that you were in a theatre watching a bunch of (it must be said talented) actors rather than losing yourself in the play. Things do pick up and the film inserts are a nice distraction and way of introducing back stories. The set is impressive and whilst the cast give polished performances the story is haphazard. The shading of comedy and seriousness is sometimes excellent but mostly predictable and therefore unfunny. Eve Myles steals the show hands down, her performance is great and she has the funniest lines. It was nice, but that isn't what you want to walk out of a theatre saying. This was opening night so there may be further tweaking - there were clearly a lot of Braff fans in the audience and it was nice to overhear a few who were saying this was the first time at the theatre. They'll love whatever he does but for those looking for the brilliance of Garden State are going to be disappointed. Fans of Braff will love this so go if you like him. Don't go if you're expecting a new modern classic. I left feeling like it was a work in progress, I'm sure with more feedback and workshopping it could be something special. The most touching part was seeing Braff well up whilst taking his bows, this is a big deal for him clearly but maybe that led to coming to the West End prematurely. It wasn't awful but neither did it meet my expectations. Finally will sometime change the reference to Irish riverdance music - it was a scottish tune. You'd think one of the English cast would set this straight!