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About "Every Brilliant Thing" (the lab version)

"Every Brilliant Thing" is a one-person play co-created by renowned British playwright Duncan Macmillan and British comedian Jonny Donahoe. The script uses a humorous approach to provide a nuanced portrayal of mental health issues, easily capturing the audience's interest and resonance. Over the past decade, the play has been performed in various theatres around the world and received widespread critical acclaim.


The play focuses on raising awareness about depression and encouraging the embrace of small joys in everyday life. The story is led by a single performer, using a list of "Brilliant Things" as the central axis. The protagonist starts the list at the age of 7, attempting to help their mother, who is suffering from depression, rediscover their curiosity about the world and hope for life. The list of items grows with the protagonist's maturation, experiencing various transformations.


This play is an interactive and immersive one-person performance, with the audience becoming an essential part of the storytelling. During the performance, the audience is invited to play different roles in the protagonist's life, engaging in impromptu interactions, providing a multi-perspective viewing experience that allows the audience to establish a unique connection with the performer and the themes of the play.

Edited, Directed, Performed by Jen Lam

關於《Every Brilliant Thing》- the lab version



《Every Brilliant Thing》由著名英國劇作家Duncan Macmillan 和英國喜劇演員Jonny Donahoe 共同創作的獨腳戲。劇本以幽默手法對心理健康問題作細膩描繪,容易引起觀眾的興趣及共鳴,過往十年於世界各地不同劇院上演,受到了廣泛的好評。


該劇以探討對抑鬱症的關注及鼓勵在平凡的生活中擁抱當中的小確幸作主题。故事主角由一名演員擔領,以一張「美好事情(Brilliant Thing)」的清單作主軸,主角由7歲時的開始寫成,試圖讓患有抑鬱症的媽媽重拾對世界的好奇和對人生的希望,清單上的項目隨著主角的成長日漸增加,經歷著不同的轉變。



We wish to express our gratitude to our sponsors for this project:

(In alphabetical order)

Aaron Liu, Agnes Chu, Andy Lam, Bobo Ng, Corolla Tsui, Elsie Leung, Erica Yuen, Fiona Ho, Frances Kan, Fred Shum, Irene Ng, Joyce Lam, Kenix Chan, Kevin Leung, Peggy Yau, Sarah Kwan, Sheung Yuen Lee, Vicky Yip

Creative team & Crew 

Lighting Designer: Lai Tze Yu

Deputy Stage Manager: KC Chan

Arts Administrator: Charmaine Lai

Illustration: Siusiuyuen

Special thanks to the team from St Stephen's College help in this project

Principal: Mrs Julie Ma
Deputy Principal: Ms Winnie Wong 

Mr Theodore Tam 
Ms Judy Leung
Ms Cheyenne Chan 
Ms Natalie Chan

Student helpers:

Poster design - Edith Choy

Backstage Crew (In alphabetical order) - Chan Lik Lincoln, Chan Yau Ka, Chan Yi Ching, Cheung Alice Po Lam, Gittings Mark Daniel, Ho Chung Ting Harry, Lam Mone Dek, Lau Aaron Jensen, Li Jiale , Ma Ching Long, Ng Pak Lam, Peng Pan Shing Peter, Sze Yiu Ki Max, To Hoi Ching, Wan Chuen Hei, Wong Nathaniel King Seng, You Kwan Pok Wesley, Yu Daniel Chi Ho

Behind The Scenes
(Production Week & Student Workshop)


St Stephen's College

Study notes for“Every Brilliant Thing”

The Playwright

Duncan Macmillan is the acclaimed British playwright, screenwriter, and director who authored the play "Every Brilliant Thing.” He was born in 1984 in Norfolk, England, Macmillan grew up in a working-class family and studied English Literature at the University of Oxford. He began his career in the theater, working as a playwright, director, and producer with various companies in the UK.


In addition to "Every Brilliant Thing," Macmillan is known for other notable plays such as "People, Places and Things," "Lungs," and “2071." His plays often explore themes of mental health, relationships, and the human condition, with a focus on emotional honesty and nuanced character development. Macmillan's work has been widely recognized, with multiple Olivier Award nominations and wins, as well as acclaim from critics and audiences.


Macmillan is considered a leading voice in contemporary British theater, known for his ability to tackle complex, emotionally charged subject matter. His plays have been praised for their empathy, insight, and ability to connect with diverse audiences, making him an influential figure in the literary and performing arts.

The Plot

"Every Brilliant Thing" is a one-person play that explores the story of a child who creates a list of everything that makes life worth living, as a way to support their mother who is struggling with depression. The play follows the narrator as they revisit this list over the course of their life, reflecting on how their perspective and appreciation for the "brilliant things" changes over time.

The Themes

Mental Health and Depression
The play sensitively explores the impact of a parent's depression and suicidal tendencies on a child.


Coping Mechanisms and Resilience
The list-making serves as a constructive way for the narrator to find hope and meaning in the face of adversity.


Love and Relationships
The play examines the complexities of supporting a loved one struggling with mental health issues.


Gratitude and Appreciation for Life
The central premise of the list encourages a focus on the small, everyday joys that make life worth living.


Theatrical Techniques

Direct Address
The narrator speaks directly to the audience, creating an intimate, conversational tone.


Audience Participation
Volunteers from the audience may be called upon to help tell the story, making each performance unique.


Minimal Set and Staging
The play relies on the narrator's storytelling abilities, with a simple, minimalist set design.


Humor and Levity
The script balances moments of humor and levity with the more serious, emotional elements.

"Every Brilliant Thing" is praised for its empathetic, insightful exploration of mental health and the power of focusing on the positive, even in the face of immense difficulty. It's a moving, thought-provoking theatrical experience.

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