Every Brilliant Thing

Left Edge Theatre
in Santa Rosa through December 16

Ron Severdia. Photo by Argo Thompson. 

One of the most hauntingly beautiful theatre pieces I’ve seen this season is Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing, currently running at Left Edge Theatre. Thoughtful without being sentimental, an antidote to holiday treacle without being crass, it’s a memorable and moving show that warms the heart and affirms life, even with sadness, depression, and death in the bargain. Solo actor Ron Severdia gives a stirring performance that feels fresh and familiar, capturing both the comedy and the pathos in an intriguing tale.

Tone is important for this piece, and Severdia hits it just right—there’s humor, joy and laughter, along with a very straightforward, natural delivery that invites us in and avoids the maudlin. He tells the story, in first person, of a man whose mother attempted suicide when he is seven years old. His father tells him, “your mother has done something stupid,” and the boy pieces together scant bits of information to try and understand what has happened. His young mind hears, accurately or not, that she didn’t feel there was any thing worth living for. This leads the boy to create a list, hoping it will cure his mother’s depression, a comprehensive list of “every brilliant thing” that makes life worthwhile.

The list grows and takes on a kind of life of its own. We get to hear the first 10 things, then another group, then another group, and so on, into the hundreds—ice cream, roller coasters, staying up late—simple or sublime, they ring out like bells on a Christmas tree, from a boy’s simple pleasures to more adult joys. As the boy grows into teenage and adulthood, sharing observations and experiences (and more things on the list), he draws us inside his life in an easy but intimate way. …

To continue reading about this production, see the full review at Talkin’Broadway.com:
Every Brilliant Thing