Life is full of marvellous things and that’s the affirmative message currently ringing from the Studio Underground stage at the State Theatre Centre.
Black Swan’s production of Every Brilliant Thing is timely stuff in this oft-glum epoch of importunate plague and sporadic lockdowns.
Starring the talented and ebullient Luke Hewitt, the play is a captivating romp through a ‘likes list’ embedded in the unhappy milieu of family depression and suicide.
Relying on the audience to fill the roles of father, lover, friend, old couple, professor, vet and many supportive voices, our protagonist navigates a tricky and entertaining life path from tacker to manhood.
We pick up indications of family distress early on when the nipper’s mum is rushed to hospital for what his father explains as her having “done something stupid.”
Like all curious kids he asks the eternal ‘Why?’…repeatedly. On the night we attended, an unsuspecting member of the audience played the curious lad convincingly.
Engaging, touching and funny, the play is staged in-the-round, with the energetic and creative Hewitt requesting random audience members (some reticent, some enthusiastic) to help illustrate his quirky life tale.
By doing so the audience is frequently drawn into the action, a technique that effectively makes the play and its characters’ actions different every night.
Writers Duncan MacMillan and Jonny Donahoe hit on a dynamic formula that guarantees audience engagement (the eternal quest of all productions), with many waiting to read out numbered cue cards handed out by Hewitt before the show, or joining him on stage to play various roles.
When cue card #324 came up during dialogue about the joys of music and song, yours truly mustered stentorian projection and delivered the words, ‘Nina Simone’s voice’.
There were many other cue-card readers throughout the evening, being called on at any time to yell out a phrase if their number was called.
For example, Number One: ‘Ice Cream!’ Number Two: ‘Water Fights!’ Number 9998: ‘Watching someone watch your favourite film!’ and on it went.
All reminders of pleasant and funny things compiled by the narrator to counterbalance the sadness of trauma.
It was uplifting reiteration that there are many things, large and small, which combine to make life worth living.
Every Brilliant Thing is a fun night out, emboldens many minor thespians, and shines a genuine light on the funny side of depression.
By the way, it’s hopeless trying to hide up the back to avoid participation. Hewitt will come and find you – and you might even awaken a hidden side of yourself!
Cast: Luke Hewitt
Writers: Duncan MacMillan & Jonny Donahoe
Director: Adam Mitchell
Set & Costume Designer: Fiona Bruce
Composer and Sound Designer: Melanie Robinson
Lighting Designer: Kristie Smith
Every Brilliant Thing runs at Studio Underground until Saturday 18 September. For more information or to book go to www.bsstc.com.au