All New People at the Duke of York’s theatre – Review

Zach Braff as Charlie and Paul Hilton as Myron in All New People. Photo by Alastair Muir

There is no getting away from the fact that All New People wants to be so much  more than it is (funnier, more profound, more interesting) but generally falls short of these intentions. On the other hand, there is something heroic in the effort.

Charlie is at a beach house in the middle of the winter, ready to kill himself. He is interrupted by Emma, an eccentric British real estate agent trying to rent the house, who brings along her friend Myron (an ex drama teacher turned fireman / drug dealer). At some point, Kim, a friendly escort sent to Charlie as a present, shows up and the four of them try to negotiate the rest of the evening, with Charlie determined to his course of action.

I don’t mind unlikeable characters, but there is no sufficient meat to any of them: Myron, played by Paul Hilton, is the most obnoxious, he is also the one with the most insight and  true to himself, and I found he commanded most of my attention . Plus he is played by Paul HIlton, who is always compelling to watch. I found Eve Myles, who played Emma, annoying (the “eccentric” in her character description should have been a clue), until a revelation very late in the play, but by that point it’s too little too late. Zach Braff is a nice enough presence as Charlie, but he sits out a lot of the action, and at those times he is not interesting enough to watch. The reason for his actions (as it’s revealed late in the play) should make him a powerful and tortured figure but that doesn’t come across in the characterisation. Kim is the stereotype of the tart with a heart, and Susannah Fielding plays the part with genuine warmth and charm. There is a brief moment when the play gives us a glimpse into her character, but it’s not followed through.

There are four filmed scenes intercepted throughout the play, that add almost nothing. Joseph Millson, David Bradley and Amanda Redman appear in these scenes, which makes for a rather starry cast.

There are some nice one liners, and I enjoyed the physical comedy of the first ten minutes, which blended suicide and laughs very nicely. Ultimately though, the play doesn’t say anything new & doesn’t say it compellingly enough.

Four stars for effort, two stars for execution. The audience was younger than most West End shows, with an even split between men and women, and they seemed to enjoy it. So I might have missed the point completely.

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