Every Brilliant Thing
Orlando Shakes in Orlando, Fl
by Carl F. Gauze
By Duncan MacMillan and Johnny Donahoe
Directed by Anne Herring
Starring Suzanne O’Donnell
A kid needs a hobby, especially when mom is suicidal and dad is depressed. Our young narrator (O’Donnell) takes us through her life story by the list of things she thinks are great. You might come up with something other than ice cream or water fights, but whatever is on you list, I’ll bet its fun. Mom and Dad have “issues.” He’s a sullen yet depressed aficionado of mid-century modern jazz, mother has a penchant for suicide and depression. As a child, all our narrator can do is hunker down and wait for adolescence. Of course, all these mental conditions are hereditary, and the older version of The Narrator bounces around until she meets the man of her dreams and they marry. While that has its ups and downs, she eventually returns to her project, now in the six figure range, continues to expand with more adult experiences like “coffee” and “compiling lists of things that are cool” and this gets her though some rough patches in here marriage. By the end of the show Ms. Narrator has a cool one million cool things, that being cool all by itself. I recon that to be a stack of paper the size of an SUV, but hey, theater allows for that sort of exaggeration.
For a Covid-wary audience, this was a risky show. We all sat elbow to elbow in the Margeson Theater, a theater dived in half by a black wall behind which another set was under construction. Many of us were handed papers with a number and a phrase, and when our big number came up, we shouted out whatever was thereupon written. I was custodian of “Water Fights” one of the simpler joys. The level of audience engagement stayed high, participation enthusiastic and most of my fellow patrons were acceptable speakers. Personally, I was off book by the end of the night. “Every Brilliant Thing” reintroduces us to this live theater which Director Helsinger announced had been shut for 24 months. In that time the theater space was redone, new lobby carpeting installed, the bar back lit, the price of beer expanded. It’s a risky show on some levels. Audience participation is often hit or miss, but it did succeed beautifully on a bright positive on as well. Give it a spin, and if your bold enough, speak out loud while the show is on.