Every Brilliant Thing
Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donohoe
Paines Plough and Pentabus
Brewery Arts Centre
On 03 June 2015
Review by Denis W McGeary
A celebration of a life, how to survive childhood and being an adult.
This is an evening of joy and sadness on the topic of depression, a one-man show where the time flies by but after just one hour you feel you have known the character all your life.
This was a sell-out, performed in-the-round on the Brewery stage. It started a little late and, as they could see each other, the audience was casual, relaxed and were taking time to greet each other.
Jonny Donohoe was around, jeans and unironed shirt, setting up, moving through the audience, chatting to people and slowly the performance started. The play opened with the character played by Jonny, aged 7, learning about life, the death of his dog, loneliness, his mother’s depression and her attempts at suicide.
At school, he was able to talk about his problems with a sympathetic teacher; at home, he made sense of life by writing lists. Lists were his rock and security. Cleverly drawing in audience members to play his dad, the vet, teacher, college lecturer and girlfriend we lived through his life.
Systems, lists and procedures gave security. We lived through his time at university, his courtship and love as well as the breakup. "Am I difficult to live with? Yes, I guess I am." I certainly recognised parts of my life as did many members of the audience.
This was an evening with a thoroughly nice guy; the writers, Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donohoe, have written a truthful and thought-provoking piece about an ordinary, nice guy who, like many of us, finds life rather difficult to understand from time to time.
This was a sell out in New York and will be touring the UK for most of the year including a month in The Fringe in Edinburgh. I have been a fan of Paines Plough for around 40 years; in Every Brilliant Thing the company has come up with another winner.