Sunday, July 10, 2011

All New People ***

Zach Braff is back at Second Stage, this time as playwright rather than actor. His dark comedy, now in previews, is about a very depressed man (Justin Bartha) seeking solitude on his 35th birthday at a Jersey Shore beach house in midwinter. He is soon interrupted by an attractive British real estate agent with a secret (Krysten Ritter), the town fire chief/drug dealer (David Wilson Barnes) and an expensive call girl (Anna Camp), a birthday present from a wealthy friend. A lot of alcohol and drugs are consumed and some very funny lines are spoken. There's also some hilarious physical humor. The action is periodically interrupted by film clips (with Kevin Conway, Tony Goldwyn and S. Epatha Merkerson) that illuminate the characters' back stories. Braff is good at writing funny dialogue and setting up an interesting situation, but the play's energy gradually runs down until it sputters to a close. Perhaps that will be fixed by opening night. Alexander Dodge's set of an ultramodern beach house is perfect and Bobby Frederick Tilley II's costumes are excellent. Peter DuBois' direction is flawless. It's not a great play, but it's a guilty pleasure. Running time: 90 minutes.

Note: Sitting next to me was a girl of about 10 who was with a man I assume was her father. I doubt that he intentionally chose a play that would give her a crash course in drug use and kinky sex. Shouldn't there be some way to alert ticket buyers when a play is not suitable for children? What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

John D. Gregory said...

Here is my take on your comment at the end of the review. I wonder who decides when a play is not suitable for children. I suspect that the people who make such decisions are likely to err on the side of inappropriateness. Also, I worry about taking an “essentialist” approach-what is appropriate may vary with age, maturity, and other factors. In the final analysis, I think it is the responsibility of parents to determine to what their children should be exposed theatrically rather than producers or the government, heaven forfend.