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A CurtainUp London London Review
All New People

Your accent sounds so British like Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow. —Kim
All New People
Susannah Fielding as Kim, Zach Braff as Charlie, Eve Myles as Emma and Paul Hilton as Myron (Photo: Simon Annand)
Zach Braff is well known to a young British audience for his part as Dr John “J.D.” Dorian in Scrubs and so was a natural choice to bring his play to London with his taking the lead of Charlie, the man in crisis, found about to hang himself in the opening scene of All New People. Braff also penned directed and starred in the well received 2004 movie Garden State. Peter DuBois who directed Becky Shaw is in charge.

All New People is a dark comedy and not all comic stage plays make the journey across the Atlantic successfully as there is a difference of reception (although we love American television comedies) but Braff’s play has plenty of laugh out loud moments. Each character stumbles in on Charlie’s proposed suicide on his 35th birthday. The first is disaster prone, English estate agent and illegal American, Emma (Eve Myles) who is waiting to show round two elderly, prospective tenants. Paul Hilton as Myron is called to help. He is a fireman and local drug dealer who supplies the locality with cocaine. Finally Charlie gets an unwanted birthday present from his rich friend, the New Jersey house owner. The gift is Kim (Susannah Fielding) a high class, very pretty but hopelessly dim bimbo. When she claims at $15,000 a night she’s an escort and not a prostitute, Myron retorts that’s like calling him “a pressurised water courier”. For more plot detail see Simon Saltzman’s review in New York with a different cast go here.

These four each have a back story which is explained by a filmed clip to illustrate why each is in the predicament they now face. British actors David Bradley, Joseph Millson and Amanda Redman appear in the filmed expositions which raise serious moments but we wonder if this could have been scripted differently rather than overlaid. Charlie’s announcement that he has killed six innocent people shows a man in deep personal distress. Alexander Dodge’s spacious and art enhanced Long Beach house set is slowly trashed to the point where snow falls inside the house.

I greatly enjoyed some of the jokes to do with Susannah Fielding’s ultimate dumb blonde script and acting. Eve Myles too as Emma is chaotically accidental as she destroys a valuable but hideous African beaded artwork leaving these large wooden beads all over the floor ready to cause more accidents. Some of the expressions on Myles’ over anxious face have to be seen to be believed. Paul Hilton, magnificent in his banana fireman’s outfit supplies the cocaine to supplement his out of season earnings and, as an actor, he never fails to deliver.

As there was more train disruption in London last night as a suicidal passenger threw himself onto the railway line at Hither Green we can be relieved at the almost happy ending in All New People when Emma and Charlie discover they can comfort each other. There may be no deep message in All New People but does there have to be?

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All New People
Written by Zach Braff
Directed by Peter Dubois

Starring: Zach Braff, Eve Myles, Susannah Fielding, Paul Hilton
Designed by Alexander Dodge
Lighting: Paul Anderson
Sound: Fergus O’Hare
Projection Design: Duncan McLean
Running time: One hour 30 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 0844 871 7615
Booking to 24th April 2012
Note: the sexual content and the language make All New People not recommended for those under 18.
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 28th February 2012 performance at the Duke of York’s St Martin’s Lane London WC2N 4BG (Tube: Leicester Square)

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