20 March 2012

All New People at the Duke Of York's

I expected Eve Myles' character to be something like the sassy very-Welsh always-in-control woman she is in Torchwood. Instead she plays a timid and unsure English woman. That's what good actors do.

The play opens with her entering a grand Summer house on Long Beach Island. It's Winter and she is an estate agent trying to find somebody to rent it. She expects the house to be empty; it's not. Staying there temporarily to get away from it all is Zach Braff's character who we know nothing about.

Later they are joined by a drug-dealing and drug-using fireman (there are not many fire in Long Beach in Winter) and then by an "escort" sent there by the house's owner as a present for Zach.

Eve and the fireman are in some sort of relationship which means more to him than it does to her, and he sees it as casual. The escort proves to be an easy distraction.

It is quickly apparent that fate has thrown these four odd-balls together just to see what sparks will fly. They do. Everybody knows that the first stages of team building are Form and Storm and we see a lot of the Storm.

Only two of the characters know each other before hand so we witness five new relationships being formed.

Rough edges are nudged, soft spots are discovered and dark secrets are revealed.

Everybody has a reason for being there and not somewhere that they would rather be, such as in England in Eve's case.

The rough edges bring anger, the soft spots add humour and the dark secrets mix in healthy dollops of drama.

The play moves quickly around the several relationships and the various moods leaving you breathless and entertained as it does so. Eve remains at the centre of most as she nudges things along gently. She is in control but her lack of self-esteem does not let her see it.

The four wounded people struggle through and the play ends in a happier place than it started, though it would be pushing things too far to actually call it a happy ending. It's sufficient to say that nobody else dies though by then we can see all the skeletons of those that have.

You could be mistaken for thinking that as Zach Braff wrote the play and appears in it that it is some sort of vanity vehicle, and one review I glimpsed beforehand suggested just that. It's not. It's a funny and poignant play.

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