Yesterday I went to see Zach Braff‘s play “All New People“. And although I remember to have enjoyed it, my memory of it is now overshadowed by how depressed it made (and still makes) me feel afterwards. However good the cast or funny the script was, the depressing tone and hopeless ending has ruined the whole play for me (and the whole weekend actually). Because what the play gives you to take home is hard to digest: You will never be happy, you have to fight every day again and again and you will never have friends.
The play starts with the main character who is about to commit suicide. And although he is still alive at the end, you go home with the feeling he will kill himself soon afterwards anyway.
(This whole situation actually reminds me a bit of Andi’s post about the death of the Maulwurfn.)
I’m not saying this play should have a happy ending. I particularly don’t like happy endings most of the time. The more realistic, the better. But the ending to “All New People” is not just an unhappy one, it’s a devastating one! And if you identify a lot with the main character (like I do), this can obviously get dangerous.
Whenever the BBC is showing any kind of upsetting programmes (e.g. a documentary about suicide or a feature film about Alzheimer’s or a discussion about domestic violence or whatever), they always make people aware of a helpline at the end of the programme, in case it might affect anyone too much. I think something similar to that would have been a very good idea for this play. Maybe they could have warned people before or could have offered a counsellor on site afterwards or given out leaflets with information and helplines etc.
So, as they have irresponsibly failed to give a warning, here is mine instead:
If you are emotionally unstable or have lost someone to suicide or have any other reason to be upset by the subject, don’t watch the play! Or watch it only together with friends. But in case you are more like the main character, you won’t have any friends, in which case I repeat my first advice: Seriously, don’t watch the play! It will only make you feel awful and hopeless.
Has this play had any real life suicides connected to it already? If it hasn’t yet, it might be just a matter of time…
You think I’m overreacting? Yes, I probably am. But on the other hand, there are people who are much worse off than me, whose more severe overreaction might take a nasty turn.
A little disclaimer at the end: I don’t want to make the play sound bad at all. Because it isn’t! Many other (“happy”) people will most probably enjoy it a lot. (I tried to rate it during the play. Then I would have rated it 7 out of 10. It definitely has its excellent moments. But because of the problems I had afterwards, in the end I’d rather not rate it at all.)