Every Brilliant Thing – A theater play review

“Number one”
“Ice-cream!” – A guy pronounced it out loud, looking at a sticky note he just picked up from his chairs. Everyone had one attached somewhere around the audience seats.

“Number six”
“Roller coaster!”

“Number seven”
“Watching people falling over.”

There was a list of things, none of them seemed to be serious in any extents until D invited a female audience to be his assistant. He asked her handbag, then offered her a ballpoint pen, and pretended it to be an injector. He told her to act out the scene of giving the injection to his imaginary “wolf-wolf”, who was being held his two big and shaky arms, weak and breathing interruptedly. He had everyone to imagine his “wolf wolf” taking her very last breath, right on his arms.
My heart fell into complete dead silence.
It was his very first experience of death.

A boy, who was born in a not-so-perfect family, in fact, it was full of blemish. Mom had been suffering from some sorts of chronic depression, thus, he somewhat lost the privilege of being an “ordinary” child. Despite having a thoughtful and empathetic father, he understood he had to be precociously independent and figure out the world himself solely. He created a list of things that make him feel happy. The title was “Every Brilliant Thing”, big, bold and stood out right on the top of the list.

The next scenes were indeed D conducting a “draw my life” in one hour, but instead of drawing, he used his own voice, emotional expressions of an actor, and the audience participation. The show itself had been played several times before I came. However, I heard that every time would happen to be slightly different though, the version (I was watching) was way too natural and smooth to detect any visibility of improvisation.

I would say he successfully engaged everyone’s mood in the “number six”: roller-coaster and the ridiculous story behind that. As much as we laughed, and there were moments of silence. The “Every Brilliant Thing” was filled with on-end changes in its own theme, where happiness is defined very uniquely in different stages of the character’s life. When he was younger, happiness could be as simple as an ice-cream, of which sweetness and a momentary brain freeze would chill a child out so quickly. It was brilliant.

Time flew, the “brilliance” would shift to something more maturely sophisticated like the voice of his favorite singer, or a favorite track that would engage him into the mood instantly. It was also brilliant. At some points, the list of “brilliance” was temporarily forgotten, until the depression came to say hello, when he coincidentally found the list, dusted and oddly attractive, again. He continued to fill out more things out as he always did.

“A thousand”.
Someone’s voice raised by reading the given note.
The light remained a mild and soothing warmth across the room. The themed tracks were playing harmoniously in the background. There were indeed so many “brilliant things” mentioned that apparently went beyond my capability of memorizing. I witnessed him and the list growing together, getting over the griefs and sorrows.

Number “something” – “Waking up next to somebody”,

Number “another something” – “sex”, everyone laughed so hard. As the list of wonders just kept going on like, until he found his first love. He was so naïve that did not know that love would be attached to for such a long time.

Life is filled with on end struggles, neither is the brilliants things you have. In fact, you have never actually had it since everything is impermanent in its nature. That was what I learned, life is a series of unpredictable changes that require you to adapt to any prices. One day, the knell was sent, unpredictably, the death of his mother, after all the sufferings from an inveterate depression. It’s clear that he genuinely lost something, though, lost will always be refunded with something equal. Death is apparently a not-so-brilliant thing, but there are thousands of others to bring the brilliance back to the soul of yours that has been thought to be seemingly arid. Looking back at the journey you have gone, you would be able to realize that you’re much more resilient and resourceful than you could ever imagine.

People with mental health issues were also portrayed so vividly in this theater show. In Vietnamese context, those such things would not be so considerable in contributing to sustainable well-being, in fact, the attitude toward it would only be ignorant, until something really bad happens: over-stressed, depression, self-harm, even suicides. Not everyone is either able to survive in the battle or aware of such disastrous consequences of mental illnesses.

Many more tracks were played, from the 80s I supposed, of which melodies were lively, there were some kind of chemistry to make everyone dance along with it, but no one did, it was his show anyway. Yet, D himself was dancing the whole time.

As the show ended, the applause went for so long that my palms almost turned red, he was going around introducing the audiences who assisted him during the show. It was one of the most adorable things I had ever seen indeed.

Not until I went outside that I saw a black wall full of posted notes, with people handwriting on them. There was a special list of “Every Brilliant Things” of Saigon, contributed by everyone attended the show. I picked up a green one and wrote “random nods from people :)” (it is another story, until next time!). As I gently pinned it to the wall, I saw myself joyfully surrounded among hundreds of other colorful notes that hold the most brilliant things in the world.

It was really great for a night out!