BWW Review: EVERY BRILLIANT THING OPENS AT SPINNING TREE THEATRE IN KANSAS CITY at Spinning Tree Theatre
Billed as a one-man show EVERY BRILLIANT THING opened Saturday, August 17 at Spinning Tree Theatre now located in the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center in Overland Park, Kansas. This opening production for their ninth season is anything but a one-man show. Filled with interaction with the audience it shines high on a list of must-see performances in Kansas City.
Doug Weaver directs this compassionate yet hilarious look at a subject most people would prefer not to discuss the tragedy of suicide. Written by Duncan MacMillan and first performed by England's Jonny Donahoe the play is a monologue (filled with audience participation) which begins with a seven-year-old and runs through a portion of his adult life.
The little boy is met at school by his father and he is driven to the hospital where his mother had been taken after a failed suicide attempt. boy tries to help his mother think of things that make life worth living by beginning a list of brilliant things that helps to make life tolerable. He continues the list from childhood to becoming an adult. It is the list that seems to be the only constant thing in his life.
Audience members are met at the entrance to the theater and asked if they will participate in the play by reading from a numbered piece of paper, which may contain one word or several sentences. Don't think you are safe if you are not asked. Throughout the 65-minute program R. H. Wilhoit the star of the show calls on random audience members to play vital parts; a veterinarian, teacher, or his dad. Wilhoit is superb at improvisation as was the audience members, who were often led into a discussion without a script to fall back on.
I wondered how Spinning Tree Theatre would be able to present a play on such a delicate subject. Only a few minutes into the program I knew the answer, by picking the right actor. Wilhoit is without a doubt the right person for the performance. His body language, facial expressions and adlibbing were near perfection. Even when an audience member made a blunder he would respond with a comment or action that would cause the theatre to erupt in laughter.
The play and Wilhoit deliver a strong urgent message that everyone should hear. If you are contemplating suicide don't, there is always some brilliant spec of life that can get you through it, if only you let it. Personally I thank Andrew Grayman-Parkhurst and Michael Grayman-Parkhurst for bravely delving into such a sensitive subject.
EVERY BRILLIANT THING continues at Spinning Tree Theatre through September 1. To purchase tickets online go to www.spinningtreetheatre.com.
Photos courtesy of J. Robert Schraeder and Spinning Tree Theatre.