Every Brilliant Thing is the story of a seven-year-old boy who makes a wish list of everything brilliant thing worth living for in this world to cheer up his mother – from Christopher Walken’s hair to staying up till morning with someone that you love.
At the beginning of the story the unnamed boy/narrator of the one-man show loses his dog and starts to question his father about anything and everything. In the middle of the story he comes to realise that his parents don’t like each other anymore. He confronts the ghosts left from his mother’s suicide attempt, as he grows up to adulthood and meets a girl named Sam at a library and falls in love. It’s a story about love and loss and those deep, dark, and depressing moments in life.
To tell this loosely scripted story, there are four characters in the show who are chosen from the audience – a veterinarian who euthanizes his dog, a school teacher with a sock puppet, his dad, and his girlfriend.
It’s a poignant one-man comedy (yes, it is a comedy), which questions the turmoil of life from a little boy’s point of view. The heavy dependence on audience participation is always a gamble, but this story-telling style was engaging and uplifting and added so many new and exciting layers (and much spontaneous hilarity) than just one man could deliver.
The performance of British actor James Rowland was heart wrenching and brilliant. There were moments in the show in which he saved potentially awkward moments with his witty improvisations, like when he asked an audience member to throw a book towards him and the book mistakenly hit another man in the audience, he quickly made a joke out of it which made us all laugh.
This quote from the show sums up the theme succinctly, “If you live a long life and get to the end of it without once feeling depressed, you probably haven’t been paying attention.”
But make no mistake – this is not a depressing or dark show. Every Brilliant Thing is witty, charming, utterly relatable, entirely hilarious, and ultimately an uplifting night at the theatre.