Eileen Earnest, in this humble writer’s opinion, should be on Broadway! Earnest is the single actor in Every Brilliant Thing which is playing at the incredible Falcon Theatre in Newport. But is she the only actor? Many in the audience become actors themselves. Ah, Earnest made it all happen so seamlessly.
Okay, so like most plays I review, I do my homework. I google the play, the theatre’s adaptation of the play, and whatever else I can discover. So this play written by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe was first performed in England at the Ludlow Fringe Festival in 2013. It came over the pond to the US in 2014. It was originally in book form and then HBO made it a movie, of sorts. Hmmmm….this play must be fairly amazing. It is!
FYI: I didn’t watch the HBO movie until after watching the play. I am glad that I didn’t because Jonny Donohoe is great but Eileen Earnest is even better.
The Plot of Every Brilliant Thing
How do I explain this play? The plot: a 7-year-old’s mother attempts suicide, the 7-year-old begins a list of things that are worth living for (every brilliant thing). 10 years later the mom attempts suicide again and the now 17-year-old doesn’t take it as well and stops the list. The now college student falls in love and continues the list. After becoming happily married, the character’s mother actually commits suicide, depression sets in and the list stops. Eventually, our heroine gets psychological help and finishes the list at 1 million.
Earnest welcomes you personally when you come to the seating area. She hands out notes to various audience members and tells them to please say their lines when they are cued. In this lovely theatre, there are approximately 60 chairs placed in a rectangle/square pattern and only 2 seats deep so the audience is seriously intimate with each other and the actor. Earnest is within a few feet of each audience member at any one time. She gives the audience eye contact while she walks around and tells her story. Props are simple, 4 wooden boxes with various props in them.
A Roller Coaster of Emotions!
It is a wonderful roller coaster of emotions! One minute you are laughing at something Earnest said or how an audience member handles their role then you are feeling deeply pained because of a fact on suicide that is shared or the inability of the speaker’s mother to step out of her depression to love our character. But one is never sad for too long. The depth of hope that this soul feels is beautiful and carries you along on this joyous, thought-provoking, and delightful ride.
Although lighting design (Ted J. Weil), sound design (Tracy M. Schoster & Ted J. Weil) and sound execution (Amy Enzweiler), set construction (Ted J. Weil & Clint Ibele) and costume design (Tara Williams) are simple, they all make this play work in a way that makes the play flawless. Earnest notes how grateful she is for Tracy M. Schoster, the Director. Stage Manager is Amy Enzweiler and Assistant Director is Cline Ibele.
Every Brilliant Thing starring Eileen Earnest is running March 17 through April 1 at the Falcon Theatre in Newport. This is one that you must see. There is something so heartbreaking about this spirit who struggles with not only her mother’s depression but her father’s inability to reach out to his daughter to help her through it yet is so uplifting, her own insistence in seeing everything that is worth living for.