Charismatic quartet - Larisa Faber, Isaac Bush, Gintare Parulyte and Jules Werner in Anne Simon's version of "All New People" by Zach Braff
Photo: Bohumil Kostohryz
Theatre: An energetic, hilarious and absorbing production of Zach Braff’s “All New People” provides some seriously funny entertainment at the Théâtre des Capucins.
A noose dangling from a chandelier in a minimalist white-panelled living room may strike a sense of foreboding in the audience waiting for the house lights to dim before Anne Simon’s production of All New People at the Théâtre des Capucins. This is a Zach Braff play, after all, and the audience is surely expecting quirky characters and neatly barbed jokes aimed at the complexities of relationships and modern society from the star of Scrubs and the director of Garden State. Never fear, the play leaps straight into its set-up, a situation that can be exploited for laughs while also allowing the playwright room to examine a number of taboos.
The opening scene is marvellously dynamic as thirtysomething Charlie (Isaac Bush) ends up swinging from the aforementioned noose to a Riverdance soundtrack, only to be rescued by the spaced out Emma (Larisa Faber). Exquisite physical comedy involves the pair balancing precariously on a chair on a coffee table, and Emma spouts rapid fire chatter as Charlie tries to come to terms with the embarrassment of being caught mid-suicide while plotting a way to get Emma to leave.
Too late; she has already invited her friend Myron (Jules Werner) to come assist her in rescuing Charlie from himself. Myron is the local firefighter and a macho former drama teacher with a serious crush on Emma. They are later joined by the glamorous Kim (Gintare Parulyte) and this quartet spends a day getting wasted, contemplating Charlie’s motive, wickedly teasing others and wallowing in self-confessional--including a series of flashbacks, peopled by Daron Yates in various roles, which are cleverly engineered courtesy of Anouk Schiltz’s brilliant set design.
The result, thanks to Simon’s directing and stellar performances, veers from brilliant situation comedy to slapstick farce, from high drama to poignant anguish. Isaac Bush is centre stage throughout. His Charlie is a physically and emotionally drained wreck who, for the most part, passively allows the more dominant characters to determine proceedings. Bush elicits both pity and despair--like Emma, the audience doesn’t know whether to hug this little boy lost or to slap the self-indulgent man child. Amid the manic farce and stinging jokes, it is a difficult role pull off with sensitive credibility but Bush manages to do just that.
Larisa Faber is as brilliantly watchable as ever. Emma in her hands is a confused mess of a girl--with good reason, we later discover--whose penchant for drugs is matched only for her need to do good by the world, while never surrendering her fortitude or betraying her own character. She delivers with boundless energy, a knack for physical comedy and a knowing look--even breaking down the fourth wall--that has the audience enthralled.
The charismatic Jules Werner also captivates with a domineering presence as the shameless Myron, a man who takes life by the scruff of the neck and gives it a good shaking. He even confesses, early in the piece, that he is the sort of person who likes to get a rise out of people. Gintare Parulyte is wickedly funny as the sexy call girl, though many of the laughs she gets come from her character being a complete airhead--though one with a keen business acumen.
All New People provides some food for thought, although ultimately it offers little new insight into the problems it tackles--loneliness, guilt, love, the need to appear at ease with the world and other people. But in Simon’s hands it is a marvellous, funny and captivating entertainment.
Due to popular demand, an additional show has been scheduled for Tuesday 19 April. Tickets can be booked at the box office on tel. 4708951 or via luxembourg ticket (online tickets on sale as of Friday evening)
All New People is on at the Théâtre des Capucins on Monday 18, Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 April at 8 p.m.