Monday, July 30, 2018

Review of Brown Paper Box Co.'s Everybody

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Everybody. It was by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and it was directed by Erin Shea Brady. It is a reassessment and adaptation of Everyman, a 15th-century morality play. The cast changes roles by random draw every night amongst 5 people. One person plays the character Everybody (the night I saw it, it was Alys Dickerson), who has been summoned from the audience by Death (Kenny the Bearded) to go to the afterlife. Everybody can take one person with her: her Cousin (Hal Cosentino when I saw it), Kinship (Francesca Sobrer when I saw it), Friendship (Donovan Session when I saw it), Stuff (Alex Madda when I saw it), or Love (Tyler Anthony Smith). While Death and God (Chelsea Dàvid) follow along, Everybody learns about who really cares about her. I think this is a really interesting and beautiful show. It brought up so many powerful points and it really made me evaluate life, which might not seem very fun but it was very eye-opening and surprisingly funny.

Everyman was a Christian, gendered morality play, and Everybody is a non-gender-specific, not-religion-based morality play. I think Everyman really needed an update, and this is exactly what it needed to be to show a story that everyone could relate to. The play shows the inclusiveness of it by the audience not knowing who will play who at the start of the show. You don't even know at first who is the audience and who are the actors. I found that interesting and exhilarating. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I was excited to find out. I think allegory is a good way to tell this specific type of story, where there are a lot of moral questions. Allegories make things that are not people into characters to make the ideas more understandable. The moral of the story, in my opinion, is accepting your life, accepting your body, accepting that terrible things will happen to you, accepting that you are going to die, accepting that people who you love might not love you back. That is not the most depressing thing it the world because you are accepting it, and it is just part of what is going to happen. The rest of your life could have some really amazing parts to it, but there are going to parts of it that we aren't going to like. There are going to be things and consequences we aren't going to like. Acceptance is important because without acceptance you are lying to yourself and as with any lying it will make you sadder in the long run.

There was a very interesting scene where Love was first introduced and made Everybody completely humiliate herself by taking her clothes off and running around saying how much she has disappointed herself. You don't expect Love to completely humiliate someone, especially when it is anthropomorphized, but it is probably realistic. Usually the kind of love that might lead you to humiliate yourself is romantic love, but I feel like the character of Love in this play is not just romantic love. It is showing all the kinds of love in one. He comforts her afterwards and stays with her until he can't anymore, until the very end. That shows how devoted love can be even though some kinds of love can humiliate us.

There are a lot of really funny moments in this show, despite it being philosophical. One of my favorite funny moments was when a dream ballet happened and Time (Nora Fox) and God and Death were all dancing in skull masks across the stage. It was so ridiculous and just kind of popped up half way through the show. It was nice in this play full of so many sad realizations to have this really humorous but vaguely ominous moment. It had a reason for being there--it foreshadows Everybody's impending death--but it was still a nice break and made me think about death in a more lighthearted way. I also really loved the character of Stuff. She was appropriately stuffy and sort of stuck up, and unlike other characters who Everybody asked to go with her, Stuff was honest with her that she wasn't going to come and that Everybody was just being used by Stuff, who would just move on when Everybody died. It was very humorous to see the one thing you think will be compliant--your stuff--be so unnecessarily cruel and self-absorbed. I found Friendship's monologue very funny in how general it was. He would say something like, "Did you know that that one guy that we know got married/divorced/married again/divorced again." It was hilarious and interesting to see the no-no of theater--being general instead of specific--working so well for a play. Which brings us back to how effective it can be to make a show like this that everybody can find a way to relate to.

People who would like this show are people who like relatable plays, evaluating humiliating love, and hilariously ominous dream ballets. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is an amazing experience, and I really loved it.

Photos courtesy of Brown Paper Box Co.

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