Performed in-the-round, by marvellously talented Luke Hewitt, Every Brilliant Thing is a work of life affirming humour.
Every Brilliant Thing is a play about everything worth living for – from ice cream, to staying up late to watch TV. It’s an improbable and hilarious way of talking about depression. With the help of the audience, who are thrown into the story as his father, lover, friends and allies, it tells the story of a boy’s response to his mum’s attempted suicide.
I have unashamedly lifted from Black Swan’s media release to explain the premise of the play. The boy is making the list for his mother. He hopes the list will cheer her up; he wants it to keep her alive and make her realise that life really is worth living. As the years flash by and the boy grows up, goes off to university and falls in love, it becomes apparent that maybe the list might even help him save himself.
It begins with the casually clad Hewitt working the room and distributing many cards with lines appropriate to the various characters, to mostly willing participants. The lady next to me got SKINNY DIPPING. “Just yell it out” he told her. She agreed with alacrity. Her strawberry pink coiffure proclaiming her a delightful extrovert.
Then he stands centre stage and the audience is silent. The charm offensive commences in earnest! We are drawn into a compelling narrative commencing with the boy at 7 years of age experiencing death and grief for the first time. His dog Sherlock Bones is old and frail and must be euthanized.
Hewitt transforms himself into an extraordinary range of characters, using few props and no costume changes, just clever body language and his extraordinarily mobile face.
The audience is raptly attentive and there is laughter galore. Hewitt is a master of improvised wit and maximises every audience response.
Along the journey Hewitt introduces some frightening statistics about celebrity suicides, often accidental, inspiring suicides in ordinary people.
The playwright’s premise is that the children of suicidal parents have both a deep seated fear of falling into the same fate and a genuine guilt that they may have been responsible. Blaming themselves is probably the hardest issue to resolve.
The play runs for around one hour with no interval but it must be said that the audience response was genuinely engaged and loudly appreciative.
The play runs until 18 September and I confidently predict it will be a sell-out season and talked about for years to come, both in terms of performance and issues raised.
Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA presents
Every Brilliant Thing
by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe
Director Adam Mitchell
Venue: Studio Underground | State Theatre Centre of WA
Dates: 25 Aug – 18 Sep 2021
Tickets: $26 – $59