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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Theater Review: ‘All New People’ worth meeting

Most people know Zach Braff as the wacky Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian on the sitcom “Scrubs.” But Braff is a writer and director as well as an actor (as in his 2004 movie, “Garden State”). He described that movie as being about “love, for the lack of a better term.”

So, when you come to see Braff’s play “All New People,” don’t be surprised if you are reminded of The Beatles’ famous refrain, “All you need is love.”

That’s the message that strongly comes through in Jobsite Theater’s well-honed production at the Straz Center’s Shimberg Playhouse.

It is winter. Charlie (Chris Holcom) has come to his friend’s isolated Long Island beach house. He is burdened with a major guilt trip and plans of suicide. Just in the nick of time, a wacky real estate agent, Emma, (Meg Heimstead) bursts in on him, sabotaging his suicide attempt.

This British-born spitfire, who is running from her own demons, drowns him in a torrent of attention. “How dare you kill yourself in a beach house, Charlie,” she shrieks. “Do you believe in fate, Charlie? … I’ve been sent here to help!”

Add to the comic, crazy mix Myron (Jack Holloway), a friendly, lumbering bear of a firefighter who also is the local cocaine dealer. “I’m a vibe guy,” he declares as he joins Emma in aiming to rescue Charlie.

There’s also a hooker named Kim (Katie Castonguay) who insists, “I’m an escort, not a prostitute!” She has been hired to give Charlie the “GFE,” or the “Girlfriend Experience.”

So you have four clowns in one house, three of them working hard to pull a stranger, Charlie, from the brink of suicide.

Charlie might be rescued by God’s intervention. He might even be rescued by a hooker’s intervention. Meanwhile, Myron finds bliss by massaging Kim’s breasts.

“I’m on the phone with God,” he exclaims.

As for Charlie, he only believes in purgatory.

To the credit of Braff’s very raunchy, very true-to-life script and also to the credit of a highly disciplined production directed by Paul Potenza, this Jobsite presentation is a rewarding experience.

You really get to know and like these characters.

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