December 27 – January 27, 2019
Everybody, the newest play from award-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who also wrote An Octoroon. Check out my review on An Octoroon here. The story is inspired by the 15th century morality play Everyman, about the path one takes towards death or the afterlife, and at each performance, the role of Everybody is chosen amongst the cast by lottery.
Everybody has come to the end of life, and so begins the revelatory and mysterious journey towards what lies beyond. As relationships, memories, and senses fade away, Everybody is left to travel down the road that leads to the bittersweet truth that we all eventually must face. In this modern, comedic, and heartfelt riff on the iconic medieval morality play, fate decides the roles by lottery each night, so – as is true in life – Everybody could be anybody. And in the end, when it’s your time to go, what will you leave behind and what will you take with you?
Director – Jake Nice
Production Stage Manager – Tiffany Cromwell
Assistant Director – Eric Berg
Technical Director – L. W. Miller
Set Design – Inseung Park
Lighting Design – Tristan Decker
Costume Design – Ryan D. Schaap
Sound Design – David Lanza
Choreography – Danielle Georgiou, PhD
Props/Set Decor – Lynn Lovett
Assistant Stage Manager – Flower Avila
Shop Foreman – Karlee Perego
Master Electrician – Kat Fahrenthold
First of all, let me preface by saying how much I enjoy the risks that Stage West takes. While I fully admit, I’m a toe-tapping, big dance number, musical theater lover for life, I appreciate being gently nudged out of my comfort zone as I see more and more plays. Will I always choose a successful Tony Award nominee or winner over an independent playwright trying to push boundaries and stir up controversy? Probably. Do I fully understand and grasp metaphors and deep subject matter that cause us to reflect on our own lives? No. In fact, most of the time, I politely ask my husband Nathan to explain “symbolism” since he was an English major in college. Stage West presents evocative, thoughtful productions that make the theatrical experience memorable.
Before the curtain call, I take time to read the program to get a better understanding of the plot. I also love reading cast bios – especially to see where everyone went to school and what other shows they’ve been in. For the past 10 years, I’ve been an avid theater-goer in DFW so I enjoy following the careers of local actors.
As patrons were being seated, Nathan and I thought some of the actors were being seated among the audience. The “usher”, Marcus Mauldin, comes out and talks for a while. He’s extremely charismatic as he warms up the audience. Typically they have someone on staff, or a volunteer come out prior to the show and make housekeeping announcements. After a few minutes, we realized that this “warm-up” was part of the show. He wasn’t just any spokesman – he was God. Shortly the man was joined by an older women wearing a red suit, and she was Death (Amy Mills). I thought she was very funny and likable. Not the typical vision you’d have if you are personifying Death. While God and Death talked, there was some activity from the audience, and our assumption was confirmed. The rest of the cast had been planted in the audience. Each was summoned by Death, and this is where it got interesting.. actually, fascinating!
Every member of the cast, other than God and Death, had memorized the lines for each character including Everybody, Friendship, Cousin, Kinship, Stuff, Strength, Beauty, Senses, Mind, Understanding, Love and Evil Shitty Things. The actors lined up on the front part of the stage as Death pulled out various BINGO balls determining what part each actor would play for that performance. There’s literally no was to predict which of the 120 possible casting variations that you’ll see, but that’s what makes it so magical. What unique challenges – major kudos to the incredibly talented cast. Ultimately, Death has summoned Everybody. It’s her time and now, we joined her on the final journey as she tries to take Friendship, Kinship, Stuff, Strength, et al with her. However, as the old phrase goes – “you can’t take it with you when you go”.
What I was most impressed with was the calmness reflected by each of the actors. Facing a lottery to determine your character every performance would be terrifying for even veteran actors. However, each actor not only embraced their role for the evening, but they all truly thrived.
Everybody is playing at Stage West until January 27. This show is not to be missed. In fact, make a date night and enjoy dinner at The Lobby Cafe beforehand. This month’s menu includes melted brie bruschetta and southwestern crepes. Yum!