Magnolia Hensley, Jake Hinton, Andrew Hoehler, & Anna Shelton in All New People. Photo: The Alley Theater.
All New People
By Zach Braff
Directed by Spencer Korcz
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
There was a moment in Zach Braff‘s career when his image was that of a quirky interesting independent talent with so much promise. He was the star of a popular NBC sitcom, Scrubs, and the director of a generally well-received independent film called Garden State.
Then later he turned his hand to playwriting and this play, All New People, was produced twice in New York to mixed reviews. Charlie (Jake Minton) is in the middle of a suicide attempt at a friend’s home when he is interrupted by Emma (Magnolia Hensley), a realtor set to meet potential rental clients. She calls her friend, Myron (Andrew Hoehler), a local fireman and enterprising drug dealer, to come over, and an unexpected visit from a high-class Professional Escort (Anna Shelton) rounds out the situation.
The play is morbidly funny, features quite a lot of adult language, coarse sexuality, and drug use. All of which provides for a lot of very adult laughter but I’m not sure what it all amounts to. The writing has its eye on the punchline much more than it does developing characters or any narrative beyond a certain degree of outrageous impact. Braff nicely captures a Post-Modern, absurdist vibe, but there is no insight or satirical commentary to stay with you.
The design work is generally pretty good and the set comes pretty close to the mark of representing an upscale summer home in the northeast section states. The costumes reinforce the characters pretty well except for Kim, who is dressed in the somewhat cliché and sleazy fashion of a streetwalker even though the play eventually reveals that her price for one night is…considerable. She should be dressed in the most expensive clothes and jewelry instead of knee-high boots, fishnet stockings, and a bra. It is the one jarring, out of sync note in the look of the play.
Anna Shelton is excellent as Kim, although she leans into what feels like a misconception of the character. Magnolia Hensley is very funny as Emma, even if her high-energy attack threatened to overwhelm the play on opening night. My guess is she calms down just enough after the buzz of a first performance. Andrew Hoehler strikes me as close to perfect as Myron, stalking the stage in his oversize fireman’s pants with a fierce range of sensual appetites. Jake Minton has nailed so many earnest, ingenuous characters in other plays; it is nice to see him play against type to good effect.
Director Spencer Korcz may have made one misstep, but he is sensitive to developing performance and he establishes pace and rhythm with confidence. All New People provides plenty of laughs, but the text just doesn’t have as much on its mind as it wants you to believe.
All New People
April 12 – 28, 2018
The Alley Theater
615 West Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, where he is Managing Editor of their Artebella blog, and host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com. But spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.