EVERY BRILLIANT THING by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahue and beautifully directed by Deborah Harmon, is nothing shy of an amazing evening of theatre. In its basic concept, it is a memory play. When he was 7, The Storyteller (Joel Bryant) started creating a list of all the brilliant things in the world that makes people happy in order to cheer up his mother who suffers from severe depression and had just been hospitalized after a failed suicide attempt. To a 7-year-old, it was the simple solution to what is, in reality, a very complex problem. Over the years, to try and bolster his mother’s mood as well as his own, the list continued to grow and grow. Through grade school and college, into courtship, marriage and divorce, the list grew (with occasional stopping points) until it became a million shining reasons to smile and persevere.
EVERY BRILLIANT THING is performed in the round making it a very immersive and personal experience. As the audience takes their seats, the Storyteller warmly greets people individually and assigns them one numbered item in the list. When that number is called, the audience member with that item says it out loud. Other members of the audience are assigned various roles in the story; his father, a veterinarian, and a teacher to name a few. If you are like me and usually avoid any kind of theatre that breaks the fourth wall and involves audience participation, I beg you not to shy away from EVERY BRILLIANT THING. Thanks to the extraordinary talent of Mr. Bryant, he puts everyone at ease and gives the interaction a casual and fun feeling that is shared by everyone present. It is very much an intimate evening that registers more like a close friend is telling you this story than a traditional theatre piece. With his engaging personality, right from the moment you enter the theatre to the play’s final moments, Mr. Bryant makes us feel almost like co-conspirators to make this a fun evening rather than unwilling audience members. Despite the central subjects of depression, suicide and how it affects those close to it, the show itself never gets depressing. The seriousness is balanced out by a generous supply of laughter and feel-good moments. Again, thanks to Ms. Harmon’s sensitive direction and Mr. Bryant’s beautiful performance, It fills you with warmth and leaves you feeling good all over as if you had just spent an evening with a cherished friend. If you don’t see EVERY BRILLIANT THING you are missing out on one of the best evenings of theatre I have seen in quite some time.
EVERY BRILLIANT THING is produced by Dezart Performs at the Pearl McManus theatre in downtown Palm Springs now through April 10, 2022. For tickets or further information call 760-322-0179 or visit their website at www.DezartPerforms.org.