Every Brilliant Thing at Riverside Theatres

A seven year old comes home from school to learn that Mum is in the hospital. Dad says “she’s done something stupid.” The child begins to create a list for Mum. A list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything worth living for.

Twenty years and thousands of entries later, what began as a naïve attempt to make Mum happy becomes an epic chronicle of life’s little wonders. A tribute to the irrepressible resilience inside all of us and the capacity to find delight in the everyday.

A smash-hit with audiences around the world, Every Brilliant Thing is a “funny, clever and surprisingly uplifting” one-person play about the lengths we go to for those we love. Carly spoke with actor Steve Rodgers, who will be stepping into the role of Narrator after Directing the production at Belvoir starring Kate Mulvany. Read the full interview below:

Steve Rodgers

After a superbly regarded run at Belvoir, Every Brilliant Thing will open at Riverside next month. On the Belvoir production, you took on the role of co-director and will now step into this role as the solo actor. What has your journey with this show been like for you and have you felt that you discovered a different perspective to the character having played multiple roles in the production?


Every Brilliant Thing is theatre at its most elemental, in the sense that it’s all about direct address and first person storytelling to the audience, so as co-director my role was largely about making sure Kate, who originally played the Narrator, could play and improvise with someone in the rehearsal room, which allowed me to observe the role from the outside. The process as an actor then is to take what you know geographically and physically and personalize, internalize, and make it your own.


Every Brilliant Thing deals delicately with the topics of suicide and depression, offering a lighter way to engage audiences in conversation about these hard to speak about themes. How have you approached these issues through rehearsals and what do you believe is unique about the way that they are discussed through Duncan Macmillan’s play? What attracted you to this piece and why do you think audiences need to see it?

I think any play that can deal with mental health issues through a humorous lense, while never shying away from the delicate and painful aspects of the subject is a blessing for all of us. I don’t know many people who haven’t been touched by suicide to some degree whether indirectly or directly. Doing the play is a no brainer really because Duncan has written a play about devastating loss, and then at the same time affirmed how brilliant life is. It’s a play for all of us.  

It is quite unique but also refreshing to see a one-person play be taken on by casts of either gender. How do you feel that this speaks to the piece and do you feel that it plays differently at all when performed by either gender? Or does it say more about the universality of the piece in your opinion?

The character at the centre of the piece is called the Narrator. Anyone one of us, or all of us could tell this story. That’s its genius.

The premise of the story is that, following the mother’s first suicide attempt, our protagonist attempts to help in any way possible – in this instance, through the creation of a list of all the marvelous things about the world that we may not notice day to day. How has rehearsing this show made you aware of your own outlook? Do you believe that characters stay with you beyond the run of a show and if so, is this one that may continue to influence you after closing?

We started everyday of rehearsal writing out ten Brilliant Things about the world and then shared them with each other. It just makes you raw to how beautiful life is. In some ways that’s an actor and storyteller’s job, to notice the small stuff, watch, listen, and observe people, people, and people. I think every role helps you be a better human if you let it, this one especially does, because it’s all about shedding your skin rather then putting on any character or costume.   

What do you believe is the most important message that audiences will come away from this show with? Why must Sydney-siders be sure not to miss this production? 

You’ll laugh heaps and feel bloody great at the end of it. You’ll leave the theatre with your eyes and heart open.


Favourite production you have ever seen?

The Three Lives of Lucy Cabrol by Complicite at the Sydney Festival in 1995.

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?


Dream show to direct or perform in?

I’ve always wanted to play Falsatff in Henry Parts 1 and 2, and I’d love to direct a play called Kidstuff one day. 

Plays or musicals?

Plays, although I’d love to see Hamilton.

A hobby you have beyond the theatre?

Ocean Swimming.

What’s next for you after this show?

I’m acting in The Torrents for STC and Black Swan starting in May.

Every Brilliant Thing opens at the Parramatta Riverside Theatres on April 3rd 2019. You can get your tickets here.

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