“Let’s fuck scabies ridden whores’ vaginas with our fucking cocks whilst sniffing fucking coke after getting fucking smashed yesterfuckingday!”
Sound excessive? The language in Zach Braff penned comedy All New People certainly is.
Eve Myles’s real estate agent Emma walks in on Charlie (Braff) as he is attempting to hang himself in a house on Long Beach Island. She calls her drug dealer/fireman friend Myron (Paul Hilton) over to help talk Charlie into keeping his neck untangled and his feet gravity bound. The trio are joined by high-heeled hooker Kim, (Susannah Fielding), hired for Charlie by a friend to cheer him up, since the day is also his birthday.
…a new young play up to its tits in drugs, booze, and sex talk.
While even granny’s can’t deny there are few things better than a well timed ‘fuck’ for a good belly laugh, when actors have been fucking (verbally not literally, just to clarify) explosively on stage for 40 minutes, whatever emotional passion supposedly inspired them to do so is lost in gratuity. Everyone swore. A lot. And the sudden recital by Myron of a lyrical passage from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice only made the crassness of the modern language more emphatic.
All New People is clearly aimed at the young (twenty-somethings to thirty-somethings), and I always heave a bit of a sigh when a new young play is up to its tits in vulgarity, drugs, booze, and sex talk. Because it is a representation of contemporary youth. And we’re better than that. (Most of the time.) But as the play states: “In 100 years it’ll be all new people.” So why not leave a finer impression?
So that’s, like, cool, or something.
Braff’s Charlie was suitably depressive and, when not adopting the stance of someone squeezing a turd in the great outdoors, proved as watchable on stage as he is on screen. Hilton’s Myron was warm and enjoyable to watch, and had the best lines. Fielding’s hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold wasn’t as irritating as the ditzy blonde intro suggested, and she gave a fine performance. Myles’ Emma was something of a weak link, speaking in the same trembling, on-the-verge-of-panic vibrato for the full 90 minutes. Irritating to say the least. Although the fact that she is naturally Welsh and was speaking in an awfully proper English accent may have had something to do with it.
Braff tackles modern disillusionment, sadness, friendship, frustration… all salient issues for contemporary youth. The play does take a while to get going; it’s a good half hour before all four characters are together on stage, and they all have to be filled in on Charlie’s story when they arrive, which starts to drag.
If you like a bit of cinema in your theatre, the characters’ life story flashbacks were pre-filmed and play on a giant screen that slides down to block the stage. So that’s, like, cool, or something. I won’t argue the adoption of the old projected film technique indicates a lack of skill and stagecraft in the newbie playwright, (though I think the adoption of the old projected film technique indicates a lack of skill and stagecraft in the newbie playwright). I’ll simply say, when it does get going it’s good, but just good; it’s funny, but not side-holdingly funny. But that’s good enough, I’d say.
All New People runs at the Duke of York Theatre until 28 April
Tickets from £15
Image courtesy of All New People