Review | Laura Money
Every Brilliant Thing about this show:
- Luke Hewitt‘s amazing performance
- Heartfelt and pure declarations of joy
- A sense of community felt in the crowd
- The list resonating with you
- Laughing at previously taboo things
- Calling out and becoming part of the show
- Being with others
- All of it
Hewitt’s list starts a little differently from mine – with ice cream, rollercoasters, and the colour yellow. These are the good things in the world as seen by a seven year old. As the audience calls out these simple delights they seem whimsical and pure – until Hewitt reveals the origins of the list. A list compiled at the time of his mother’s suicide attempt tinges the brilliant things with sadness. It is their joyous nature that jar with the bitterness of the situation. However, this is one of the most uplifting shows about depression ever written – it doesn’t claim to have any answers but uses one person’s ideas for seeing the good and the worth in the world and in humanity, which is a pretty good answer in my book.
Written and devised by playwright Duncan Macmillan and comedian/performer Jonny Donahoe the work is simple: a show in the round – which means there are four sides of seating with every section facing the middle where the performer stands. One performer – this can be anyone, male, female, non-binary as the narrator, in this case the brilliant Luke Hewitt. And all the house lights on – the audience is as much a part of the show as the performer. Every Brilliant Thing doesn’t really break the fourth wall – it never builds it up to be torn down in the first place. Through Hewitt’s affable nature and the sense of camaraderie from the intimate set up, the show is designed to focus all of its joy and heartache and hash it out in a kind environment. Black Swan State Theatre Company have certainly uncovered a gem in this buoyant and heartwarming experience.
As the show progresses and the audience becomes more and more involved, which serves as an elegant metaphor for community mindedness and how we all must come together and help one another. Hewitt is gentle in his approach to audience participation, coaching and encouraging the people in their performances. When his eagle eye searches for his next character, no-one is shrinking in their seats, as they know that they’re in the affable Hewitt’s capable hands. Through early loss with the death of beloved family dog, Sherlock Bones, to processing his mother’s illness and the repercussions her actions and his list have on his future, Hewitt relays these parts of the story with a clear voice and genuine emotion. Hewitt is the perfect fit for this role as he captures the essence of a confused seven year old, a university student on the verge of true love, and a slightly baffled 40-something divorcee with deft storytelling skills and enough heart to light the entire room.
Every Brilliant Thing is just that – every brilliant thing about theatre. It tells a truthful, heartfelt story that resonates, it brings people together around a topic usually hidden, it features cascading beautiful words that flow from Hewitt in an earnest monologue, and it contains a message of hope. Encouraging you to marvel at the world and the people in it, this play’s ethos is perhaps humanity’s most important function – to love and support one another – life is made easier with friends to talk to and shoulders to cry on and we can bond just as powerfully over positive shared experiences.
Trigger warnings for mental health and suicide
If you need to talk to someone you can find a list of resources in the program
Every Brilliant Thing is on at the State Theatre Centre from 25th August – 18th September 2021. You can get your tickets HERE