Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A Brilliant Thing

Every Brilliant Thing

Paines Plough & Pentabus , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , May-17-17
Every Brilliant Thing by Paines Plough & Pentabus Theatre needs to be about things that matter. Duncan Macmillan did that with “Lungs” in 2011. “People, Places and Things” in 2015 was about addiction and the faithlessness and wreckage that follow in its wake. That play was a hit making the cross-over from subsidised into commercial theatre. “Every Brilliant Thing” from 2013 fits in between and has also been a hit. Its actor Jonny Donahoe makes mention of a performance in Australia.

A premature death has on average an emotional impact on two hundred people. The closer the relationship the more tangled and tormented are the after-effects. That is Macmillan's subject. But the treatment he gives it is one of a skipping effervescence. Over seventy minutes Donahue takes his character from seven year old to young adult. It would be a spoiler to reveal any more about the style and manner of “Every Brilliant Thing”. It has a truth to it in that the heart of experience's richness is in close-up attention of the senses to the small. Sunlight and the colour yellow, a downhill cycle ride and the pleasure of reading the sleeve notes on an LP are all celebrated along with much else. A dog called Ronnie Barker and a cat called Margaret Scratcher are part of the scenario.

George Perrin's experienced directorial hand is there to maintain a toughness that avoids sentiment. Macmillan engineers his script to end in a way that is wholly satisfying. Donahoe, its vehicle, exudes energy and joyfulness.

Every work of art is itself but creates its context. Those who enjoyed “Yuri” and “Hiraeth” will do the same with “Every Brilliant Thing.” The production tours until 10th June. Its only other venue in Wales is Theatr Clwyd 7th-8th June.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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