Every Brilliant Thing | Bhumi Collective

I watched this on 21 April.

Every Brilliant Thing was written and first performed by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe. The story was told from the eyes of a child’s point of view whose mother was depressed and committed suicide thereafter. It follows the main character from a young age where he first struggled to understand his mother’s world to his adulthood with dysfunctional relationships because of his depression. This narrative shares with the audience, whom double up as a support group for the child/performer, the aftereffects of one’s suicide in a simple and clear cut manner, where the character advises anyone who thinks of doing it to “Don’t do it”.

What is interesting about this script is that it involved audience interaction. This was a risk that the character had to take because whoever he chose to help read out notes or play along as a character of the story had to be willing to play along. Audience got to play roles such as his dad, teacher, counsellor and girlfriend. Since the audience were chosen on the spot and are improvising, the character himself had to be quick on his toes, remain humorous and mediate the situation if it goes wrong. In this area, Andrew Marko did a great job holding the piece together while making everybody else feel like part of the story at all times.

This play is considerably different in its approach to theatre in Singapore, where the audience make up quite a large part of the story instead of the actors playing it out. With this spontaniety and difference in quality in mind, perhaps it is difficult to charge the audience an expensive entry ticket if it cannot be substantiated with reasons why. This also reminded me of Red Rabbit, White Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour, where the audience played out parts of the script. In terms of concept and depth, it is the latter that triumphs. Nevertheless, Every Brilliant Thing is a light and comfortable text to watch and sit through. More than a theatrical piece, it is almost a community play for the everyday folks.

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