Review: Production lets audience get in on the act

Review: Production lets audience get in on the act

Winter's arrival brings with it a kaleidoscope of emotions that, for many, are not always a celebration of dancing sugar plums. One's social media status, when it comes to the season, might read: "It's complicated."

Illustrating this truth exquisitely is the current production at the Station Theatre in Urbana, "Every Brilliant Thing" by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe.

This poignant theatrical experience gives voice to a weary son whose life has been shaped (or perhaps misshapen) by his mother's periodic attempts at suicide that began when he was just a young boy.

To cope with his pain and to bring comfort to his parents, he spends his life compiling a list of every possible, brilliant thing that he feels makes life worth living.

As a boy, those things included "ice cream" and "roller coasters." As he got older, his list included things like "the smell of old books" and "falling in love."

Performed in the round on a bare stage, the audience is cast in a supporting role to the one actor providing the narrative. Director Katie Baldwin Prosise has opted to double cast this production with two talented actors, Jason Dockins and William Anthony Sebastian Rose II, who will alternate performances.

As you enter the theater, you will be handed numbered notecards that you will read out when your number is called. In a few cases, audience members will be asked to portray pivotal characters in the narrator's life, like his father, his school counselor or the veterinarian.

Don't panic! Participation is voluntary. But should you opt to play along, the resulting improvisation is, as the title suggests, brilliant, and unique to each performance, which is an added bonus.

On the evening I attended, Dockins took the stage, and he was quite charming. Quick witted, spontaneous and connected to the work, he completely engaged the opening night crowd who, in sharing his experience, were laughing with him one minute and wiping away tears the next.

I applaud the Celebration Company for bringing experiences like this to central Illinois.

The intimate venue, sporting its brand new chairs, I might add, is the perfect setting for this type of interaction. Don't miss it.

Tricia Stiller serves as director for the McLean County Diversity Project's Theatre Program, the Miller Park Summer Theatre Program and the Penguin Project McLean County. She can be contacted at

If you go

What: Celebration Company presents the one-person play "Every Brilliant Thing," written by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, directed by Katie Baldwin Prosise, featuring William Anthony Sebastian Rose II and Jason Dockins on alternate evenings.

Where: Station Theatre, 223 N. Broadway Ave., U.

When: Today, Wednesday through Dec. 11 and Dec. 14-17. All shows are at 8 p.m. Also, at 2 p.m. today, a matinee will be offered.

Tickets: $10, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; $15, Fridays and Saturdays.

Running time: 85 minutes, without an intermission.


Topics (1):Theater