Who would have thought that Zach Braff, Emmy nominated darling of American prime-time television and Grammy winning auteur of indie hit Garden State, would ever be standing on a stage in Glasgow? With his scrubs off and his serious face on, Braff's debut, All New People, is a quietly charming and shockingly funny addition to the new season.
Misery hates company. Alone and at the brink of suicide, Charlie weathers an emotional storm in Long Island beach house. Another winter in a summer town. Enter a zany Brit, a $15,000 prostitute and a fireman with a bag of cocaine, reshaping this tale of loneliness and self-accusation into one of community and solidarity.
Superlatives fail when describing Zach Braff. Receptive, responsive and ravishing, Braff's performance as suicidal mystery man Charlie spans the emotional spectrum. Exploding with impassioned frustration and collapsing with hopelessness, Braff's portrayal is sincere and heartfelt, even if the script allows him little room to mellow.
Eve Myles is wonderful as English emigre Emma. Storming around Alexander Dodge's beautifully designed beach-house set like Edina Monsoon after three pitchers of Long Island Iced Tea, her performance is witty and breezy. Susannah Fielding's turn as Prada prostitute Kim, too, is perfectly pitched, as is Paul Hilton's questionable fireman Myron.
And yet, despite the strength of the cast, All New People struggles to maintain the arresting integrity which it so masterfully captures in its opening scene. Its flits between farce and tragicomedy, clashing characters of varying depths and trying too hard to tie a story with no easy answers up with a great big Hollywood bow.
Nonetheless, Braff has written an enjoyable and playful piece, bolstered by a remarkable cast and an at times hilarious script. Whether or not it will stand the test of time without Braff's name on the marquee is altogether less certain.