Tuesday, 17 October 2017
Theatre review: Every Brilliant Thing
As a light-hearted approach to the topic of depression and suicide, Every Brilliant Thing straddles a line between genuine sadness and respect for its subject matter, and a life-affirming celebration of everything that is its opposite, and manages it through charm and remnants of a childlike wonder, even when reality tries to crush it.
But probably what makes it best avoid mawkishness is the way George Perrin’s production becomes a communal experience. Probably a third of the audience, throughout the auditorium, get involved by being given scraps of paper with a number and one of the brilliant things written on it; when Donahoe calls out the number, the audience member reads out what they’ve been given (mine was “track 7 on every great record.”) Some of us ended up with more audience participation than that – I got drafted to play “Dad,” which is all well and good until you have to make a wedding speech.
The play wears its serious subject matter lightly, never really attempting to understand the reasons – because as I can tell you myself, this isn’t the kind of question that has answers. It remains respectful though, and bundles its melancholy message in the kind of memorable evening that brings a whole audience together.
Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmilland with Jonny Donahoe is booking until the 28th of October at the Orange Tree Theatre (returns only.)
Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes straight through.
Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic.