Who in your life needs a list?
Everything Brilliant Thing is an introspective look at a man recounting his childhood where his mother made multiple attempts to end her life.
Daniel K. Isaac (Billions) recalls the first time his mother attempted to end her life. He was 7. He had lots of questions for Dad that he couldn’t answer. With every answer Dad tried to provide, he recalls continuously asking “why”?
It was at that moment he decided to make a list of things to cheer his mom up.
As he goes through life his mother makes more attempts to end her life. When he was in high school. Later while he was at college. But he always found himself by his father’s side and adding to the list in a painstaking effort to cheer up Mom.
Music was a central part of their household. Jazz music, played on a record player, indicated Dad’s mood for the day.
The audience plays an integral role in Every Brilliant Thing because we are asked to play characters and read items from his list. I was entrusted to read #313 piano in the kitchen.
The items on his list were supposed to identify happy times during their time together but nothing worked. Mom was then gone.
The audience learned after Marilyn Monroe took her own life, the number of people ending their lives surged. This prompted the media to be given a guide on how to responsibly report about suicide. After a phone number was established for people to call who were in crisis the center found itself overwhelmed.
I think we all know someone struggling with how to cope with life. Whether it is a child struggling with their identity. Being overwhelmed with financial obligations. Feeling inadequate. Addressing our mental health didn’t become a household conversation until the 2020 pandemic when we were isolated from everything we knew and forced to know ourselves.
Some of us found ourselves during this challenging time.
At the end of the play, the audience is given the opportunity to add to the list. I added “finding yourself”. As we exit the playhouse we see other things that have been added to the list.
Who in your life needs a list?
Every Brilliant Thing is written by Olivier Award–nominated playwright Duncan Macmillan (Lungs; People, Places, and Things) with Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, and Off-Broadway Alliance Award nominee Jonny Donahoe (Thirty Christmases, Forgiveness).
Director Colm Summers did an amazing job of incorporating the audience into Isaac’s performance which allowed him to improvise portions that keep us entertained and thinking about our own lists and who they might help…even if it helps ourself.
Every Brilliant Thing runs through October 15 in the intimate Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at Geffen Playhouse with performances Wednesday through Sunday.
Content Advisory: This production contains discussions of depression and suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking about self-harm or suicide, there is help available. Call or text 988 for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Tickets are currently priced between $30.00 – $129.00. You can purchase tickets over the phone at 310.208.2028, in person at the box office, or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org. Fees may apply.
The Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024.