Claire Marie Mannle gives a gutsy performance in “Every Brilliant Thing.”

So many reasons to live:



Shoes that fit.

Good theater.

You’ll find three of those four things in Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre’s current offering, “Every Brilliant Thing.”

Claire Marie Mannle is our narrator for this one-person show that is at times somber, often funny and ultimately joyous.

Mannle takes us on a journey starting when her character is just 7 years old. That’s the first time her mother tried to commit suicide.

In her young mind, all that is necessary to raise her mother’s spirits is a list of every brilliant thing to live for. Roller coasters go on that list. And ice cream, stripes, staying up past your bedtime. Items on the list are woven through the play.

She travels through her childhood, college, love, the growth of the list, and, finally, to a realization that the depression her mother suffered from may have settled in her.

Michelle Milne directed this piece with a deep-seated warmth and honesty.

This is a gutsy show for an actor to take on. Not only is she on stage alone, but several times during the 70-minute-or-so show, she calls on audience members to help her by doing such things as reading from the list and playing a vet, her father, or the man she fell in love with.

That requires some improv on her part as one never knows what the audience members participating might say (though sometimes she tells them what to say).

But Mannle was up to the task, infusing her responses with a tender wit.

The theater was in the round, and just two rows deep. Shaded table lamps were in the corners of the theater, adding to the sense of intimacy.

The house lights never went down and Mannle worked the whole area. Everyone, at some point, made a connection with her — even if only when she went around the theater and high-fived each person. Most audience members likely don’t know her, but we’re betting they leave the theater feeling they’ve just left after a heartfelt visit with a best friend.

This is a lovely, moving piece full of tenderness, despair and hope. With ease and honesty, Mannle made sure we felt each emotion with her.

And that’s another brilliant thing.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128. On Twitter: @kallenStar