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Every Brilliant Thing
by Duncan Macmillan, With Jonny Donahoe
Directed by Donna Northcott
St. Louis Shakespeare
June 17, 2022

St. Louis Shakespeare’s latest dramatic presentation isn’t from the Bard, but it contains its fair share of comedy, drama, and tragedy. Every Brilliant Thing is a simply staged one-person show with interactive elements that is able to be tailored toward the leading performer, as well as each unique audience. Directed by Donna Northcott and starring local actor Isaiah Di Lorenzo, this is an engaging show that fits well into its space and tells its story with poignancy and hope.

This is a short show, running a little over an hour, and while the tone is whimsical at times, it deals with some heavy subjects including depression, self-harm, and suicide. There are resources included in the back of the program for anyone seeking help. In the play, Di Lorenzo is presented as a version of himself, telling his story of trying to list all the “brilliant” bright spots in life, first as a way to comfort his chronically depressed mother, and eventually for himself, as well. As he tells the story, he interacts directly with the audience, enlisting some viewers to participate in the action, playing his father, a teacher from school, his college sweetheart, and more, as well as reading the items on the list from cards as Di Lorenzo calls their number. It’s a thoroughly engaging show, given weight, drama, and heart by the personable Di Lorenzo, who has an excellent way of engaging the audience in the story. The audience engagement goes a little further than the story itself with this production, as well, as guests are encouraged to add their own “brilliant things” on sticky notes that they can attach to the walls in the lobby after the show. 

The staging is fairly simple, with no elaborate production values and a simple setup with chairs set out around the perimeter of the floor at the Chapel venue. For a set, there is only a crate in the middle to serve various purposes as Di Lorenzo weaves his compelling tale. There’s excellent support from sound designer John “JT” Taylor and properties designer Amanda Handle. 

Every Brilliant Thing seems to be an especially popular show these days, and I can see why, considering its interactive nature, compelling and poignant story, and the opportunity it provides to showcase a talented performer. At St. Louis Shakespeare and featuring the impressive Di Lorenzo, this show doesn’t disappoint. Even with its weighty subject matter, it’s a poignant and ultimately hopeful story which is especially well-told in this powerful production.

St. Louis Shakespeare is presenting Every Brilliant Thing at The Chapel until June 26, 2022

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