Every Brilliant Thing

Court Theatre Pub Charity Studio, Christchurch

06/04/2024 - 04/05/2024

Production Details

Author: Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe
Director: Hillary Moulder

The Court Theatre

A young child attempts to bring their mother out of depression by making her a list of every brilliant thing in the world. Decades pass, the list grows and what was once a game eventually becomes a new way of looking at the world – a world where there is joy to be found in every corner of our world, if we can open ourselves to the possibility.

If you had to make a list, where would you start?
#1 Ice cream
#2 Water fights
#5 Things with stripes
#25 Wearing a cape
#314 The way Ray Charles sings the word ‘you’
#319 Laughing so hard you shoot milk out of your nose
#823 Skinny Dipping
#9998 Watching someone watch your favourite film

One charismatic performer takes the audience on a journey to list “every brilliant thing”, casting them as the influential characters that have played a part in this journey, and asking them to call out the small, uplifting things that make up this transformative list.

The Court Theatre, The Pub Charity Studio
Tickets: From $20
Book: https://my.courttheatre.org.nz/overview/7026

A one-person play. Alternating actors Trubie-Dylan Smith and Nick Purdie

Costume Manager: Daniella Salazar
Lighting Designer: Giles Tanner
Lighting Designer: Geoff Nunn

Theatre , Solo ,

Approx. 80 minutes (no interval)

A sparkling exercise in positivity.

Review by Lindsay Clark 10th Apr 2024

Performance in the round, with one actor, a trio of cubes for a set and a script relying on audience participation and improvisation could seem a hazardous enterprise. Moreover, the material covered will range through childhood and teen years to the complications of adult life, with death, depression and suicide as part of the picture. All the more credit to script and performance then, that the near capacity audience in The Pub Charity Studio at The Court Theatre is full of smiles and enthusiastic applause when the ride is over.

The chronological outline of Every Brilliant Thing is simple enough and fleshed out with unpretentious directness, starting with a seven-year-old’s attempt to cheer his depressed mother by sharing a list of his favourite things. Ice cream, of course, and roller coasters. As time goes by, the list somehow survives various life reversals, providing an ever-richer cornucopia of reasons to smile. Each numbered addition is read by an audience member, using a cue card handed out as they settle pre-show. Mine is 2000 – ‘Coffee!’

In the context of theatre, for an audience more and more tuned to visual effects, an extended list, albeit delightfully quirky, could feel repetitive. Hillary Moulder’s direction sees to it that there is no such outcome in this production. Nick Purdie, the solo actor (on other nights Trubie Dylan-Smith is credited in the programme), galvanises the whole with sustained energy and charm.

Participating audience members also deserve an appreciative nod. As entrusted, all respond clearly to their cue and those called upon to improvise a character (father, counsellor, lover) have caught the cheerful spirit of playful cooperation, so that some very enjoyable encounters are created.

The result is a sparkling exercise in positivity. Sad things happen, but recalling ‘brilliant things’ can remind us that good things happen too. Thousands of them.


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