‘Every Brilliant Thing’ was poignant.
‘Every Brilliant Thing’ was a poignant and compelling piece of interactive theatre staged at Metro Arts in the New Benner Theatre from That Production Company.
Telling the story of a young man as he comes to terms with his Mother’s depression and as he grapples with his own mental health and well-being, the work utilises audience interaction, simple but effective staging and grippingly honest performances to captivate the viewer and leave the show feeling like you’ve just had a warm embrace.
Written by Duncan MacMillan and directed by Timothy Wynn, this is a one-man show led by Jason Klarwein (with two alternate performances from Tom Yaxley). The title ‘Every Brilliant Thing; comes from the list of simple moments of beauty our protagonist starts to compile with the aim to support his mother through her depression and highlight the little things that make life worth living – like ice cream, rollercoasters, the drum break of your favourite song, the colour yellow, etc.
What makes ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ is the performance from Klarwein – compelling, poignant and touching, Klarwein holds the attention throughout, never letting the room full of people slip from their gaze and making even those in the audience adverse to any form of interaction feel safe.
In addition to this, there is also audience interaction. Fatal for a show in the wrong hands, That Production Company make it work and it’s beautiful hearing this list of beautiful things and moments come out of the mouths of strangers in the audience – communing even for the 80 minutes of the show on the shared things we have that make life beautiful.
Because of the audience interaction, we aren’t hidden away in the dark as you would in a more conventional theatre setting. Here the space is always semi-lit with a series of lamps and bulbs hanging from the ceiling and mismatched chairs scattered around in the theatre’s in-the-round setting. The floor is covered with coloured and mismatched rugs. The effect is homely and it’s important the space that the audience walks into doesn’t feel cold and sterile but warm and colourful. This is a stirring choice in a work that covers such heavy content as suicide and depression, as there is hope and light and beauty even in the darkness and we are together going on this journey of learning and listening together. The production also provides care packs for all audience members with resources on support lines, who you can talk to, tissues and a few lollies.
‘Every Brilliant Thing’ takes a heavy subject matter but doesn’t either dwell or skim over it, instead, it honours it, gives it space to breathe and take on shape, but never overwhelms and allows audiences to listen, laugh, sit with each other and leave feeling all the better, and more aware to look up and take in lives moments of odd beauty, even in times of darkness.
‘Every Brilliant Thing’ plays at New Benner Theatre at Metro Arts until Saturday 21 October 2023. For more information and to book tickets, visit Metro Art’s website.
This production of ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ explores aspects of Mental Ill-Health and grief. The show contains depictions of depression, self-harm and suicide. If you have concerns for your mental wellbeing please note the following services for support.
- Lifeline (13 11 14) offers a 24 hour counselling. Additional information can be found on their website, www.lifeline.org.au.
- Beyond Blue (1300 224 636) if you’re going through a hard time right now, the Beyond Blue Support Service is available 24/7 for brief counselling.
- There are online chat options on www.beyondblue.org.au. You may also consider speaking to a trusted source or engaging your local GP.
Photography: Kenn Santos