By Randi Bjornstad

The play opening at Oregon Contemporary — Every Brilliant Thing — is based on, yes, a brilliant, concept, but one that too many people caught up in the hurry and scurry of modern life don’t slow down, much less stop, to consider.

It’s about a young boy who tries to help his clinically despondent mother feel less sad and overwhelmed by making an ongoing list of everything beautiful, worthwhile, happy — Every Brilliant Thing — that helps to make life worthwhile, even when it doesn’t seem to be.

The play seems to have had reviewers scrambling to one-up each other in describing it: “A Delight” (Los Angeles Times); Heart-Affirming” (Theatermania); “Captivating” (Broadway World); “Enthralling, Immediate, and Emotional” (We Live Entertainment); ” A Fun and Engaging Experience for Everyone” (Culver City News); “Every Brilliant Thing is, Well, Brilliant” (Theatrely); “A Beautiful, Heartfelt, Moving Evening ” (Theatre Digest); “By the Time It’s Over, You’ll Be Wanting More” (The Canyon Chronicle).

And on and on. You get the idea. And what are some of those brilliant things? Everyone’s list is different, but probably simple things in the mind of a child: Ice cream. Riding a bicycle. Catching a ball. Petting a puppy. Swimming. One hopes the list might be endless.  It’s different things at different ages and for different minds, but it all comes down to the same thing in the end — that often it can be the simplest things in life that truly make people happy and make life worth living and appreciating.

And in this play, as the young boy grows into a man, he doesn’t stop updating his list of Every Brilliant Thing.

The story was written by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe and published in 2013.

The play at Oregon Contemporary Theatre stars Eric Braman, a writer, actor, director, and part of OCT’s team that produces Northwest 10, an annual juried selection and production of 10-minute plays by Northwest playwrights.

The crew putting Every Brilliant Thing together at OCT includes, in addition to Braman, director Brian Haimbach, sound designer Delos L. Erickson, scenic designer Amy Dunn, props designer Amy Weinkauf, lighting designer Emily K Bolivar and costume designer and production stage manager Laura Tuffli.

As usual, the play offers two preview performances, designated Name-Your-Own-Price shows, before the official opening night. For Every Brilliant Thing, the previews are at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 and 18, with the official opening night on Jan 19. The run of the play ends on Feb. 4.

Every Brilliant Thing at OCT

When: 7:30 p.m. previews on Jan. 17-18. Opening night gala at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19. Remaining evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 20, 25-27, and Feb. 1-3; matinees at 2 p.m. on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4

Where: Oregon Contemporary Theatre, 194 W. Broadway, Eugene

Tickets: Suggested $15 or name-your-own-price for previews; $30/$45 on opening night includes after-show reception; regular performances $25/$39/$49; $20 for students with current academic ID (except for opening night; available by telephone at 541-465-1506, online at or at the door one hour before showtimes