Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham

PlayMakers Repertory Company
Review by Garrett Southerland

Also see Garrett's review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Cast
Photo by HuthPhoto

According to Mark Twain, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." That second part is tricky, and even if we do find out, when we die, what happens next? Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' play Everybody, takes us as far as it can to the other side of this life, puzzling over the why along the way. Currently being produced by PlayMakers Repertory Company and playing at UNC's Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, the play gives literally everybody the opportunity to wrestle with these deep ideas without enrolling in a philosophy class.

Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins takes as his source material a Middle Age morality play, modernizing it in many ways but still focusing on the core themes of change and love. This might sound heavy and not that entertaining, but humor and pathos are woven throughout, making for an intriguing and even beguiling piece of theatre. One of Jacobs-Jenkins's most experimental touches is the device of beginning each production with the random selection of one of the company members to play the title role of Everybody. I have great respect for this cast, who have learned the entire play and are ready at literally a moment's notice to become Everybody, a physically and emotionally draining hour for both character and actor, covering all of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's stages of dying along the way. At the performance I saw, PlayMakers company member April Mae Davis was selected. In her third year of UNC's Professional Actor Training Program, Ms. Davis has become a personal favorite. She captured the humanity of Everybody with such heart that when she was searching for someone to accompany her on her journey, I was willing to volunteer. And though the audience is given a somewhat belabored introduction to the historical context for the play, once Everybody's journey truly begins, it is one that no one would expect.

Under the keen direction of Orlando Pabotoy in his PlayMakers debut, the production begins minimally, carefully building upon itself layer by layer. Scenic and costume design by PlayMakers staple McKay Coble are both whimsical and thought-provoking. Cha See's lighting design is a standout, adding more playful and imaginative effects than can be counted, a true highlight. Sound design by Fabian Obispo, who also serves as the play's composer, is both ethereal and beautiful.

Nobody knows what lies beyond our earthly existence. And the lesson one might take from this play is left open to multiple interpretations. No matter your beliefs, one cannot deny that what we do on this earth matters. Hopefully, we all go as gracefully to the grave as Everybody does.

Everybody runs through through February 9, 2020, presented by PlayMakers Repertory Company at the Kenan Theatre at UNC's Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill NC. Tickets start at $15. For tickets and information, please visit or by phone at 919-962-7529.

Written By: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Director: Orlando Pabotoy
Scenic and Costume Design: McKay Coble
Lighting Design: Cha See
Sound Design and Composer: Fabian Obispo
Choreography: Tracy Bersley

Acting Ensemble:
David Adamson
Anthony August
Zuzu Bersley
Emily Bosco
Daryl Ray Carliles
April Mae Davis
Kathryn Hunter-Williams
Maddie Johnson
Trevor Johnson
Dan Toot
Omolade Way