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Notes on 'Every Brilliant Thing'

"If you get through your entire life without ever once feeling crushingly depressed, then you probably haven't been paying attention," says Angela in Every Brilliant Thing. Quickly comes to mind Phillip Lopate's assertion in the stunning essay, Against Joie De Vivre: "To be happy, one must pay attention, but to be unhappy one must have also paid attention."

The brighter side of the paradox is toned up in Duncan Macmillan's interactive play, recently staged by The Sandbox Collective. In an attempt to bring hope to her suicidal mother, Angela (Teresa Herrera) creates for her a long list of brilliant things.

List-making is a rather brilliant thing in itself. So commonplace a practice, we forget that our every day is a struggle at stitching together fragments — of ideas, moments and images — to form something that resembles a life. The same goes for the play, which great success is in hiding the machinery of ice-breaking under the guise of a story.

It move…

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