A major hit from August’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe before transferring to London, Every Brilliant Thing will take over the Greenwich Village house, the Barrow Street Theatre, in December. That’s where shows including Buyer & Cellar, Tribes and Our Town already have proven there’s money to be made in a 200-250 seat Off-Broadway theater — when reviews, word-of-mouth, ticket-bait material and smart producing converge.
The show, staged by George Perrin, was jointly developed by U.K. new-work specialists Paines Plough and Pentabus. Producers of the North American premiere are Jean Doumanian Productions, partnered with the Barrow’s team of Scott Morfee and Tom Wirtshafter. The trio previously mounted, among others, Tribes, now on tour, and the revival of Our Town that ran 18 months. Brilliant is slated to begin previews December 6th, with an opening on the 14th.
Duncan MacMillan’s virtually one-man show, featuring an acclaimed performance by Jonny Donahoe, played in a pop-up theater at the Fringe fest in August. MacMillan previously was Olivier Award-nominated for his adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984.
Donahoe narrates the story of a boy determined to cheer up his suicidal mother with an expanding list of things that make life worth living, including Christopher Walken’s voice and Kung-Fu movies. The list grows as the boy does and those “things” take on more weight and meaning.
Edinburgh and London critics were struck by the show’s balance between humor and seriousness and by its avoidance of a twee factor that can sink such bucket-list type of material. Calling it “a heart-wrenching, hilarious play,” the Guardian, for example, added, “There is something tough being confronted here – the guilt of not being able to make those we love happy – and it is explored with unflinching honesty.”
“It’s about life,” Doumanian said in an interview with Deadline. “It’s affirming and joyous and I hate to say it but it makes you laugh and cry and laugh again. You cannot let it go unseen.”