Interactive show proves ‘brilliant’
Theater is my life. Seeing a play gives me the chance to step into someone else’s story as I sit in the audience and watch the events unfold. However, the play I saw this weekend, “Every Brilliant Thing,” was a little different. Rather than just sitting and watching the play, I became a part of it.
This play tells the story of a girl as she grows up, starting with when she is seven. Throughout her journey, she writes a list of all the good things she finds in life. Some things on the list are simple, like ice cream or chocolate. Others represent specific happy moments, like a song that she and her partner enjoy or messages of love.
This play was unique because it was interactive. Upon arrival, audience members were given notecards, which listed a number and a phrase, such as “bed”, representing items on the girl’s list. Throughout the play, the actresses called out these numbers and the audience member would read what was written on the card with the corresponding number. This kept everyone on his or her toes and let the audience be a part of the story.
Three actresses, Amy Ollove ’21, Ashley Friedman ’22 and Kat Potts ’23, all shared the role of the protagonist. In the director’s note, Emily Pollack ’21 explained that normally only one actress plays this role but she decided to cast three actresses to represent the different sides of the character’s personality. Other roles in the show, such as the vet, the girlfriend or the dad, were played by audience members. The performers guided the audience members on what to say and do to move the story along. This means that the performance will be different every night, based on who is selected to play each role.
With all the joy reflected in the play, there were actually some pretty dark themes. This play shared important information about suicide and suicide prevention, like how TV shows that detail suicide can affect people. For example, I learned that making a particular suicide method sound easy and quick can be problematic for the audiences. The story centered around the fact that the girl’s mom attempted and eventually completed suicide and the ways that that affected the protagonist. The reason she started writing the list was to help her mom see the good things in life. Ollove, Friedman and Potts did a fantastic job of balancing the fun and happy moments of the show while also portraying the heavier parts in a serious manner. This can be very difficult to do, so applause to the cast for being able to play these very different emotions so easily.
I also think that director Pollack put in a lot of effort to stage the play in a way that incorporated the audience. The play took place in a lecture hall in Lown, so the actresses were able to move easily from the stage to the audience. At some points, Pollack blocked the actresses to sit in the audience, which was an interesting and creative way to use the space to its full potential.
The space’s decoration had an instrumental connection to the story. At one point in the play, it is mentioned that the girl left post-its around the house of things on her list for her mom to read. For the performance, post-its were displayed across the walls of all the wonderful things on the list. This was a nice way to pull the audience into the environment of the story without having a lot of set and technical elements.
Overall, I enjoyed this play. It was entertaining and fun, yet thought -provoking at the same time. It had many of the key elements you want to see in a performance and creating a space for the audience to interact with the performers made it that much more exciting.