Quote of the Day: “EVERY BRILLIANT THING finds a perfect balance between conveying the struggles of life, and celebrating all that is sweet in it.” —The Independent (London). (from press release by The Jungle Theater)

EVERY BRILLIANT THING was originally created as a short story by Duncan Macmillan. It became the world-wide phenomenon audiences know and love today after improv artist Jonny Donahoe brought his skills with working with audiences to the piece. In 2016 it was adapted for television by HBO.

JuCoby Johnson in Every Brilliant Thing at The Jungle Theater. Photo by Lauren B. Photography

I wasn’t able to get to The Jungle for opening weekend of Every Brilliant Thing. After reading other blogger reviews, I put the show on my must-see list for this Fall. Like many people, I have missed the community experience of live events. This past weekend, my friend and I, along with her twin daughters, were finally able to have another theater date, followed by family weekend at the University of MN, where my son is a senior. He’s part of the Marching Band, so we also attended a Gopher game on a extraordinarily gorgeous November day!

Every Brilliant Thing at The Jungle Theater, through 11/14/21

What makes this show unique is its invitation to participate in a very non-threatening way. As we entered and chose our seats, JuCoby approached each person and asked if they would be willing to take a slip of paper, or object, and read or respond with it when he called it out during the play. A few people were also asked to be other characters in the play, and he helped them with lines or waited for them to respond. One of my friend’s daughters was asked to play the teacher. She did great. He asked if she would take off her shoe and sock and create a sock puppet, who became a dog, which she named Fido, and he lead the scene from there. 

Our main character talks about suicide attempts by his mom, his earliest memory of them were when he was only seven years old. From that day on, he started making a list of every brilliant thing, starting with ice cream (one of the girls had that line) to rollercoasters (mine) to the alphabet. He used the list to try to help his mom feel better. In the end, the list helps him feel better, get in touch with his own feelings, and meet his wife. We left the theater with our own lists in mind.

Even though I didn’t make it to media night, I wanted to write a review of this play. It reminded me why I started writing reviews. It helps me process what I’ve experienced, lift up artists, draw people into the experience, and support the arts. We saw JuCoby Johnson perform. He guides us through this story with gentleness and humor. It feels like its his story, even though we know he didn’t write it. Joy Dolo performs on Thursdays, and she also does a remarkable job with this material. We can’t pretend that darkness doesn’t exist in this world. Facing it and talking about it are important. Attending this show is the best way to experience theater and community. 

Performances of EVERY BRILLIANT THING are Tuesdays – Sunday at the Jungle Theater at Lake and Lyndale. ASL interpreted performance will be available on Nov 2 at 7:30pm and Audio Description performance available Nov 4 at 7:30pm. Preview performances are Oct 13-14 at 7:30pm. To help reach a wider audience, the Jungle is introducing PAY AS YOU ARE pricing, asking those who routinely pay $45 for theater tickets to pay that amount; but if an audience member needs to pay less, they can choose to pay less. Tickets (starting September 29) and more information are available at (612) 822-7063 or www.jungletheater.org.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What are some things on your list of brilliant things? 

Here are a few of mine from this past weekend:

1. Theater dates with the girls!
2. A delicious dining experience at a new Mexican Restaurant, Iconos, that is next to the Jungle Theater.
3. Having a son in the UMN Marching Band and watching him perform.

4. Extraordinarily gorgeous day in November for watching an outdoor football game.
5. Finding free parking at 6:00 am near the warm-up field on game day!