Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Every Brilliant Thing
Arden Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

Also see Rebecca's review of The Craftsman

Scott Greer
Photo by Ashley LaBonde, Wide Eyed Studios
The Arden Theatre Company opens its Bob & Selma Horan Studio Theatre with the Philadelphia premiere of Every Brilliant Thing. The intimate space is absolutely perfect for this unexpected and moving one-person play. Under the direction of Terrence J. Nolen, an utterly endearing Scott Greer combines traditional storytelling with improvisation and audience interaction to create an experience that is funny, devastating, and ultimately life-affirming.

Our narrator starts by taking us back to the first time his mother attempted suicide, when he was only 7 years old. In an effort to cheer her up, he begins to write, "a list of everything brilliant about the world. Everything worth living for." Over weeks, years, and decades the list grows. Although it starts off as a way to help with his mother's depression,the list quickly becomes a way for him to cope with the ups and downs in his own life. The ever-expanding list is our touchstone as we follow the narrator from childhood, through adolescence, and into his own complicated adult struggles. Greer periodically pulls individuals from the audience to help act out scenes from his past and calls on the audience to read out items from his list. Of course, there are lots of tears along the way, but there are many laughs and insightful moments too.

Every Brilliant Thing it is a perfect fit for Philadelphia favorite Scott Greer. His relaxed demeanor sets the entire audience at ease (he spoke to nearly every person in attendance before the curtain) and creates a comfortable environment conducive to easy interaction and emotional openness. More than anything else, it is his air of earnest friendliness that makes the story behind Every Brilliant Thing so personal and profound. The show was first produced at the 2013 Ludlow Fringe Festival in Shropshire, England, but it would be easy to believe that it was written with Greer in mind.

Every Brilliant Thing runs through December 10, 2017, at Arden Theatre Company's Bob & Selma Horan Studio Theatre at the Hamilton Family Arts Center, 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia PA. Call the Arden Box Office at 215-922-1122, visit, or visit the box office.

Author, Cast & Director:
By Duncan Macmillan with Johnny Donahoe
Featuring Scott Greer
Directed by Terrence J. Nolen