By Jerelyn Craden
Every Brilliant Thing (EBT), presented by the Highlands Summer Festival, Aug. 1 to 5, has every brilliant element that has earned it international praise as a play that is uplifting, timely, entertaining, informative, hilarious, and paradoxically, is about depression.
“I love it,” Scot Denton, EBT director said. “It’s a unique play that’s timely and important. With us going through this remarkable period in our history where for the past two-and-a-half years we’ve been facing things, sometimes alone, feeling unsupported and oftentimes depressed, seeing this play might really help people turn the corner.”
Written by British playwright Duncan Macmillan with British comedian, Johnny Donahoe, EBT is a one-person, audience-interactive play that follows the narrator’s story from the age of seven to adulthood beginning with a touching, childishly naïve attempt to cheer up his chronically depressed mother with a list he compiles of every brilliant thing worth living for: One, ice cream. Two, Kung Fu movies. Three, burning things.
“It’s very uplifting and a great departure for the festival which I find quite exciting,” Summer Festival president Brian Kipping said. “The narrator is in constant dialogue with the audience, and the audience participates in the conversation.”
Denton spoke of the play’s narrator, Douglas Walker.
“It’s a great journey for him and he’s perfect for the role. Doug has a wonderful voice (subtle Scottish brogue), he’s charming, understands the importance of humour and he’s engaging – when he talks to you, you know he’s talking to you.”
A trained singer, Walker is a graduate of a music theatre program in Scotland, and earned an Master of Arts at the University of Glasgow where he met his wife, singer/songwriter Jocelyn Regina (who hails from Haliburton), and then immigrated to Canada. Audiences will get to hear his dulcet bari-tenor tones as he sings bits of musical reminiscences sprinkled throughout the performance.
“The show is so engaging and so funny,” Denton said, talking about the play’s structure. “Before the show starts, the narrator welcomes the audience and chats with them as they walk in. He hands about 50 people little bits of paper, each with a number on it and asks them to shout out in a nice clear voice what is written on the back when they hear their number called out. It’s very funny and everyone is happy to do it.”
Walker finds the play captivating.
“Above all else,” he said, “I find the content of the show is really important, especially after past years of the attitude of not talking about mental health, especially for men not talking about their feelings. I find it so refreshing to be in a play that talks about this type of subject matter with no shame, and great joy. The authors found humour in places you wouldn’t expect and it really comes across beautifully.”
For a more inclusive audience experience, the staging is as close to theatre-in-the-round as the theatre allows. There will be a Q and A after each show.
For more information and to purchase tickets see highlandssummerfestival.on.ca.