This play opens where some lives end…with a noose and a wobbly chair.
Fortunately for us, the feeble, if not heartfelt attempt at suicide by Charlie, played with dour panache by Joey Millin, is interrupted by the untimely entrance of a real estate agent, Emma, who arrives to prepare for a showing of Charlie’s friend's rather fabulous Long Island house to some potential summer renters…who never show.
Emma, played with sweet and epic hilarity and not a bad English accent by Marissa Fennell, leaps into action, dislodges Charlie from his perch and swears to stay with him, cheer him up and prevent him from trying again. She feels fate has stepped in and neither one of them has the right to interfere with the destiny of their rather dramatic meeting.
She is also a little high, and bent on getting higher. After convincing Charlie that she should stay, she calls her friend and local Fire Chief Myron for back up and additional drugs. Myron, played by the sublimely brilliant Kenneth James Billington, soon arrives, stash in hand and the three settle into their weird situation until the final of the ensemble arrives, Kim, played by the ridiculously good Elizabeth Ann. Kim is an escort, hired by Charlie’s friend and owner of the house to distract him from his depression with some sex. He politely rejects her, but she stays anyway…after all she has been paid already and it's a long drive back to New York.
So here they all are. The suicidal loner, the stoned British woman in desperate need of a green card, her doting drug dealing fireman friend and the slightly loopy New York high class hooker. This is frankly a perfectly contrived situational comedy.
This is Mr Braff’s first play, we remember, of course, his brilliant “Garden State” film and its sequel, as well as his long run as J.D. on "Scrubs." He is a great comic writer and the characters are a very clever mix of types, all circling around each other, rather drunkenly at times, but always with a masterful purpose to amuse.
It’s full of jokes, a wild variety of one liners, and then much more keenly defined observational humor as the characters reveal themselves throughout the play.
None of this would work of course without the excellent cast. All far better at really ‘being’ these people than anyone I could imagine. The casting is really phenomenal actually and each actor fits their part perfectly, so it’s really wonderful to watch them perform together.
It’s a long one act, which I love because a play is already an artificial environment without taking a break halfway through to remind us we are in a theatre. So I’m really glad they tore through it the way they did.
“All New People” is a really fantastic play, funny, smart, and about people just like the ones all around us, dealing with problems we all have, well maybe except Charlie attepting to kill himself…hopefully thats not a problem most of us have. But the play isn’t really about that exactly. It’s about four people who spend some time together, drink a bit and laugh a lot and get through something profoundly sad and difficult together, for not any other reason than they just decide to. Life is like that sometimes, when you least expect it, and this play takes that “sometimes” and makes it really, really funny.
“All New People” is directed with aplomb by the charming Robert Dominick Jones who manages to give these fine actors the space they need to shine in these roles. Bravo!
It’s a very short run so get your tickets right away, this is a play you really shouldn’t miss…it’s that good.
“All New People” By Zack Braff
At The Actors Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
Running from November 3 - 19, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays 2PM
Starring Joey Millin, Elizabeth Ann, Marissa Fennell & Kenneth James Billington
Directed by Robert Dominick Jones
Written by Zack Braff
Assistant Director & Stage Manager - Veniesse Razo
Set Design by Brain Graves
Light & Sound Design by Jenifer Nwene
Costume Design by MJ Scott
Playbill & Poster Design by Anne Fennell
Photography by Steven Jones