Before becoming a member of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s social media club, I had never seen a one actor play before. As much as I have always liked theater and the arts, I was always skeptical of going to a play with only one performer. I guess I had a narrow-minded perception that it would be boring. If you too share this sentiment I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone as I stepped out of mine this year and go to a play with one actor. You may just be surprised as I was. “Every Brilliant Thing” would be a great production to see if you are skeptical of one actor performances.
Before the performance began I was approached by the actor, Scott Greer, who asked me if I would be willing to read the words written on an index card when he called out the number in the top right corner during the production. Although slightly nervous because now like the scene in the hit show “How I Met Your Mother”, like Ted, I was now a part of the play. Without knowing the context of the show, the words on my index card made no sense to me so I figured I better just sit back and enjoy until my number was called.
I don’t really like to read summaries of productions before I go to see them. Part of what I enjoy about live theater so much is just sitting down and not really knowing what to expect and just living in the moment for the duration of the production. This particular show had me captivated in a different way than any other production I have seen at the Rep this season.
“Every Brilliant Thing” is a story of a boy who is explaining to the audience what is was like growing up with a mother who had depression so severe that she tried to take her life multiple times and eventually did. The first time his mother attempted suicide the boy was 7 years old. At that time, he decided to make a list of “Every Brilliant Thing” worth living for. Thus, number 993 – having dessert as a main course. Over 3 decades, the story unfolded and the list grew to one million brilliant things to live for.
Perhaps the most captivating part of this production was the use of audience participation. Not only did various audience members read out items from the list of brilliant things but we also saw an audience member play the main character’s father, school guidance counselor, and girlfriend (and later wife). All on the fly, all in the moment. Every production of “Every Brilliant Thing” is, therefore, a little bit different which is exactly what I love about live theater.
This show is a great reminder that life and so many things in this life are brilliant. It’s a great reminder that things not matter how small or trivial they may seem are not to be taken for granted. I’d highly recommend checking out this moving performance by Scott Greer. Tickets are still available and “Every Brilliant Thing” runs now through May 5 in the Stiemke Studio at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Tickets for the show can be purchased online, by calling the Milwaukee Rep’s ticket office at 414-224-9490 or visiting the ticket office in-person at 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202 while it is open Sunday – Friday from Noon – 6:00 PM.