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All New People By Zach Braff Reviewed

Simon Binns at the Opera House applauds a bright start to writing for Scrubs star

Published on February 10th 2012.

All New People By Zach Braff Reviewed

Zach Braff is a brave man.

He must be. His first play, All New People, uses one set and a cast of just four. And in the opening scene, he tries to kill himself.

No intervals either, just an hour and 40 minutes of dark, often taut humour built around Braff's character Charlie and his unsuccessful suicide attempt in a friend's New Jersey beach house.

All New People is sharp and funny despite the implausibility of the plot. An impressive debut.

As he dangles on the noose, he’s interrupted by Emma, a British real estate agent desperate for a green card. They go on to be joined by drug-dealing teacher turned fireman Myrom, and Kim, a prostitute who appears to enjoy her work and the power it brings. She's really a musician, you know.

As they try and convince Charlie to choose life, it becomes clear that each character is wrestling with their own morality and the choices they make.

Braff's script - when it settles down from a nervous and sweary first five minutes - is underpinned by the notion that everything and everyone operates within a dizzying vortex of double standards.

Charlie is struggling to live with the results of an accident he caused - although all the characters have regrets. A drop down screen cleverly presents each character's significant moment through a pre-shot film, taking us out of the beach house for a few brief moments. A clever production touch. 

The script veers between the comedic and the dramatic, sometimes in a way that feels uncertain and disjointed. Much like the plot, elements of the play are just too contrived, but invest in the characters instead of the storyline, and you'll be fine. For the most part.

Sections of dialogue grate though, and at times All New People isn't half as clever as it thinks.

It is funny though.

At best - and Braff may wince at this - it's like a more grown-up and anxious version of Scrubs. At worst, it’s a self-important re-working of Friends. Braff saves the best gag for himself. 'What's the last thing you want to hear after you've slept with Willie Nelson? I'm not Willie Nelson.'

All New People is sharp and funny despite the implausibility of the plot. An impressive debut and probably the only suicide-based comedy you're likely to see this year.

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