Theatre Review: Every Brilliant Thing

The title says it all; A Very Brilliant Thing

The title says it all; A Very Brilliant Thing

Presented by: State Theatre Company South Australia
Reviewed: 3 May, 2023

Every Brilliant Thing demands a brilliant performer and Jimi Bani is quite frankly just brilliant in this beautifully crafted piece of interactive theatre. Sitting chatting in the foyer before the show you see Jimi work his way around and introduce himself randomly to his audience sometimes stopping and chatting. Picking someone he asks if they could do something for him. There is no sense of coercion or bribery, just Jimi’s sunny personality bringing light and life into the world of the people he is about to share a theatre space with.

Every Brilliant Thing is a piece of theatre that relies on the input of everyone in the theatre and I mean everyone! The thought of audience participation makes the average punter’s blood run cold, but you never really get the sense that there is audience participation. Every interaction Jimi has with his audience has purpose and helps drive the narrative of this adventurous piece of writing.

Because Jimi has been greeting the audience at the door, talking to them, asking them questions, giving them a hint that their input will be integral to the evening, the atmosphere is relaxed and filled with an exciting energy. The audience catches the mood of the unexpected, and the air seems to crackle a bit. The show starts; but the lights don’t go down. Jimi launches us into the world of the seven year old boy and the beginning of a journey of discovery as he shares with us the event that changed his life and how the people he knew, and the people he met, helped shape his place in the world and how he managed and progressed through life.

The interaction of the audience sharpened and tested Jimi’s skill to the edge of its limits at times. Never once did he fail to meet the challenges this piece throws at the performer. Exciting, edgy interactions. Moving and sometimes almost overwhelming emotional drive keeps the audience laughing, on the edge of tears, comparing how our lives have been challenged and thanking Jimi for letting us know we are not the only ones to have ever felt the world is a very big place and we are a very small part of it, but that we also hold the cards in our own hands to change the way we live our lives.

It takes a very talented team to give an actor the support and courage to undertake a one person show. Director Yasmin Gurreeboo has crafted a secure and moveable platform for Jimi to work on with the clever script of Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe . Jimi is never at a loss, and even when things get a little shaky from an audience perspective Gurreeboo has encouraged Jimi to just let it be what it is and go with the flow. It was at times heartbreaking and breathtaking to watch.

The Space Theatre seems at once homely and cavernous and Kathryn Sproul has created a vast playground for Jimi to use. 16 mismatched chairs on two sides of the seating in the round was all it needed to bring to life a simple and easily changeable world that allowed the work to breathe and expand. The clever and subtle light changes were almost imperceptible and Nic Mollison, as ever, heightens and shifts mood with a deft touch.

Music is always a delicate balance in piece of emotionally charged work and sets the mood and drives the emotion. I have intentionally not read the play, but I’m sure most of the music is scripted. Even so, Andrew Howard’s sound design was an extra gift that lifted the energy to new highs and lows with effortless and clever impact.

This was an evening of healing, challenge, joy and I’ll say it again Brilliance. It was filled with Every Beautiful Thing and I’m starting my list tomorrow. If you want to know why, go along and have a really fun and emotionally challenging time in the theatre.

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes

Photo credit: Matt Byrne

Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 28th April – 13th May, 2023
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes (approx.)
Tickets: $75:00. (Concession $65:00)

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