Some plays have been performed for decades. Branden Jobs-Jenkins’ play, Everybody, has been around a lot longer than that though- at least in some form. Acting as an (incredibly likeable) usher/guide for the evening, Kathryn Hunter-Williams explains that what the audience is about to view is an adaptation of an ancient morality play called Everyman, one that was probably itself an adaptation of another play that was based on a Buddhist fable. Obviously, this show, directed by Orlando Pabotoy and onstage now at PlayMakers Repertory Company, has a complex and somewhat convoluted past. However, that only serves to add to its mystery and intrigue.
Further keeping things interesting is the fact that the actors don’t play the same roles each night. Their roles, instead, are assigned by lottery, as a way to keep fate involved. This also ensures that the show is a little different each night, which makes one curious to see how other productions might go.
Kathryn Hunter-Williams and Dan Toot begin the show. HuthPhoto.
On this particular night, however, Anthony August was chosen to portray the main role, which he did powerfully, effectively, and with an incredibly natural, friendly air that made his character instantly relatable. The “main role” in this case is of the one person, the “Everybody,” who has been chosen to go before God, give an account of his life, and then meet Death.
What unfolds here is a trippy, highly-experimental tale that flies by in a frenzied but enjoyable 95 minutes. Pabotoy uses unique lighting effects and techniques by Cha See, hides his actors in the audience, and just plain pulls out all the stops to make this show one wild ride. The intensity is further enhanced by elaborate costumes, masks, effects, and so much more that all serve to make this production a true visual masterpiece.
But, despite the show’s wildness, it’s actually a simple story at heart- one about the mundanities of life and how we take them for granted, about what it means to be human, and about love and the people we encounter on our journey. Its message is both dark and hopeful. And, while this is definitely a think-piece, it’s one that’s truly worth thinking about for a long time.
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