Review: Every Brilliant Thing at Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre

Review ByTatum Stafford


There are an overwhelming number of things to love about “Every Brilliant Thing”, a powerful play written by esteemed modern playwright Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe.


Performed in-the-round, the show revolves around one man’s life story as he reckons with his mother’s severe mental illness and the trauma it unfurls on those around him. When he first learns his mother is unwell, he decides to make a list of ‘every brilliant thing’ in the world. The list runs the gamut from rollercoasters and ice cream to Andre Agassi and hammocks.


The most impressive aspect of this show is its seamless audience interaction. Where many crowds will meet participation opportunities with nervous laughter and a lack of eye contact, the show’s brilliant sole actor Luke Hewitt is incredibly charming, and spent a good 20 minutes pre-show weaving through the audience to hand out individual ‘brilliant thing’ cards. As we were seated in the balcony, I wasn’t able to hear the instructions he gave, but they must have been very clear and effective as each audience member with a card read it aloud with conviction, and very little hesitation, at some point (or multiple points) throughout the show.


Luke Hewitt gives a formidable performance in this show. He carries heavy thematic material with grace, and interacts with chosen audience members (who play some of his family, teachers or even romantic interests) with encouragement and zero judgement. In doing so, a truly safe environment was established in the intimate playing space in the centre of us all. His chosen volunteers for Thursday night’s performance did a fantastic job playing along with directions from Luke, and it’s clear he was very supportive in ensuring they would feel safe and comfortable whilst on the small stage.


Adam Mitchell’s direction is fantastic, and creates a series of incredibly powerful moments in contrasts of stillness and laughter. It was very heart-warming to hear Adam speak after the opening night performance, as it’s clear he has a deep respect for Luke Hewitt’s performance, and an appreciation for how lucky WA is to put on this show given the current COVID-19 restrictions across the country.


Special mention should also go to Fiona Bruce’s work on the set and costuming, Melanie Robinson’s sound design and Kristie Smith’s lighting design. Hugo Aguliar Lopez is another crucial member of the team, as stage manager, and he does an impeccable job in keeping this show running smoothly.


Though it conveys heavy subject matter, “Every Brilliant Thing” is ultimately a story of hope, human resilience, and the importance of connecting to each other as much as possible. Luke delivers a fantastic message regarding this after his final bow, indicating that a conversation could change a life. I’m sure everyone who has seen this show so far would agree it’s an important and essential message indeed.


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