Vital and life-affirming play Every Brilliant Thing at Theatre by the Lake and venues across Cumbria this Autumn
Wed 6 Sep 2023

Vital and life-affirming play Every Brilliant Thing at Theatre by the Lake and venues across Cumbria this Autumn

Every Brilliant Thing is an honest, uplifting and very funny play about resilience and the lengths we go to for the people we love. Charmingly told with a little help from the audience, this life affirming show helps to encourage vital discussions around mental health.

The story explores depression and hope, confusion and joy, heartbreak and anger, relationships and solitude, guilt and forgiveness. We become part of the story as the performer tells us about his life with his mother’s suicidal depression as a backdrop, including the effects it has on his experiences and relationships.

In Cumbria, there is a 50% higher suicide rate than the national average (Office of National Statistics). Theatre by the Lake’s production coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2023) and aims to not only provide an enjoyable and thought-provoking night of theatre, but to continue the conversation, engage communities and celebrate our own brilliant things.


You’re seven years old. Mum’s in hospital. She finds it hard to be happy. To cheer her up, you start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world.

  1. Ice cream
  2. Water fights
  3. Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch tv

As you grow up, so does the list

  1. Nina Simone’s voice
  2. The fact that sometimes there’s a perfect song to match how you’re feeling

Every Brilliant Thing is by Bruntwood Award winning playwright Duncan Macmillan (People, Places and Things; Lungs) with actor, comedian and writer Jonny Donahoe. It was originally developed by Pentabus and Paines Plough and performed by Jonny Donahoe at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in New York and on tour across the UK.

Theatre by the Lake’s production is directed by Artistic Director Liz Stevenson, who recently directed the theatre’s productions of The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Home, I’m Darling. It is performed by Andrew Turner, whose credits include Frantic Assembly’s I Think We Are Alone, and film and television roles including Macduff in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Darryl Cudlip in Father Brown (BBC) and Christian Gatley in Coronation Street (ITV).

The theme for 2023’s World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’: by encouraging understanding, reaching in and sharing experiences, we give people the confidence to take action to help prevent suicide.

In a lifetime, 1 in 15 individuals will attempt suicide and 1 in 5 individuals will think about suicide. For every suicide, 135 people are directly affected at the time of death, the number then increasing over time. Encouraging conversations about suicide helps to break the stigma that can prevent people from seeking help.

For this production Theatre by the Lake is being supported by Cumbrian suicide prevention and suicide bereavement support charity Every Life Matters, national suicide prevention charity for young people Papyrus, and men’s suicide prevention charity Andy’s Man Club.

 A programme of additional opportunities, EBT+Plus, features post-show activity including inspirational speakers and performers and Q&As to engage audiences in conversation around mental health and suicide prevention. Confirmed speakers and performers include Andy Airey of Three Dad’s Walking and Papyrus, Chris Wood of Every Life Matters, actor Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street; Broadchurch), poet Emma McGordon and Ragged Edge Productions.

EBT+Plus also celebrates all the brilliant things in the world, both at the theatre and online. An exhibition in the theatre’s Mezzanine Gallery focuses on what brings us joy, curated from working with local communities and Cumbrian mental health support organisations Always Another Way mental health support for young people and adults in Copeland and Allderdale, Cumbrian health and wellbeing group iCan, Healthy Hopes Cumbria health and wellbeing charity and Cumbrian maternal mental health group The Happy Mum’s Foundation. An open call on the theatre’s Social Media channels and website gives people everywhere the opportunity to add their brilliant things and be inspired by the contributions of others.

For full details, visit our Every Brilliant Thing page here.

Interviews are available with Andrew Turner and Artistic Director Liz Stevenson, plus Andy Airey of Three Dads Walking and representatives from Cumbrian suicide awareness charity Every Life Matters.  

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