Every Brilliant Thing (3 stars)

This article is from 2014

Every Brilliant Thing

Depression has never been so charming in this slightly-too-short play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Paines Plough’s travelling Roundabout Auditorium is probably the loveliest venue at the Fringe. Tucked away in a cosy corner of Summerhall, this Tardis-like theatre is bright, colourful and a comforting antidote to the festival’s any-space-will-do ethos.

It’s the perfect setting for Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing, a delicate but hilarious comic drama that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. Jonny Donahoe plays a six-year-old trying to understand why his mother has just tried to kill herself. So he starts making a list of every brilliant thing in the world, starting with ‘ice cream’, and – just as his mother’s suicidal impulses carry on – his list continues into adulthood.

It’s an exceptionally sweet piece of theatre, effectively capturing the highs and lows of depression and switching between laughter and sadness quite effortlessly. George Perrin’s direction makes full use of the intimate in-the-round set-up, getting the audience involved in the show in the most unobtrusive way (some of this performance’s funniest contributions are from audience members). But while Macmillan’s play is endearing, it feels slight – despite the weighty subject matter – and a little too short. Another 10 minutes of story and interaction would make this a wonderfully fulfilling piece.

Summerhall @ Roundabout, 560 1581, until 22 Aug (not 16 & 17), noon, £15 (£10).

Every Brilliant Thing

  • Written by: Duncan Macmillan

A play exploring depression from the perspective of a young child whose mum has been hospitalised. Each performance involves members of the audience so every show is unique.