Coming December 26th during the holiday season, when many reflect on what they are most grateful for, HBO’s EVERY BRILLIANT THING strikes a delicate balance between sobering loss and cathartic laughter. Adapting the hit off-Broadway one-character show of the same name written by Duncan Macmillan and starring British comedian Jonny Donahoe, this deeply affecting film recounts a life lived in the shadow of suicide. Emmy® winners Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (HBO’s “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures,” “Wishful Drinking”) produce and direct the heart-wrenching yet humorous presentation.
In this acclaimed show, a young boy attempts to cure his mother’s depression by creating a list of the best things in the world. The list grows as he progresses from childhood (“Ice Cream”) and adolescence (“Star Trek”), to college (“Surprises”) and marriage (“Falling in Love”). But when life deals a bitter blow, the list proves to be helpful to the son in ways that it could never be for the mother.
Filmed in 2015 at New York City’s Barrow Theatre, EVERY BRILLIANT THING opens as Donahoe greets the arriving audience with hand-written notes instructing them to participate when called upon. From there, Donahoe proceeds to cast unsuspecting audience members into various roles – a veterinarian, his father, his college lecturer, his fiancée – working with them in such a welcoming atmosphere that they feel like natural performers. He then proceeds to tell a story spanning nearly three decades and several life-changing events, starting with a young boy’s eye-opening first brush with death (his childhood dog), evoking laughter and tears in equal measure.