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Bradford is brilliant in 1-person Rep show

by Eric E. Harrison | September 17, 2022 at 3:42 a.m.
Chad Bradford stars in the one-person show “Every Brilliant Thing,” in the Black Box through Oct. 23 at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He stands beside director Ginna Hoben. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Thornton)

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre couldn't have gotten a better start for its 2022-23 season.

Chad Bradford is simply brilliant as the single actor in "Every Brilliant Thing" by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe.

Add his performance as item 1,000,001 to the list "everything that's 'brilliant'" about the world that his character starts when, as a child of 7, he hopes to help his ailing mother find all the reasons life is worth living.

It's especially poignant when we realize that his mother's sadness is clinical depression, to the point where she has attempted suicide, which the playwrights -- and Bradford, through, among other acting assets, amazing improvisation and connection to his audience -- treat with warmth and humor and compassion.

The setting is in the round in the Rep's Second Mezzanine "Black Box," where the audience seating is in an astounding collection of unmatched chairs (from the horse-head-carved bar seats to overstuffed armchairs to thrones to comfy sofas), lit by a baker's half-dozen mismatched chandeliers and an assortment of wall, floor and table lamps that any hardware store would be proud to offer.

Bradford uses the entire space, dashing through the "aisles," making eye contact with just about every person in the room, spurring audience participation by getting folks to shout out list items (by pre-arrangement) and having otherwise-onlookers to play a parent, a spouse, a veterinarian, a sock-dog wearing school counselor and other characters out of his life -- even, using a keyboard that wheels into the scene, at times his own musical accompaniment.

Director Ginna Hoben, who herself acted in this show earlier this year, adds considerable sheen to the brilliance by helping Bradford find his inner child -- who continues to survive even to the end -- and conveying that to all present.

The Rep has rated the show PG-13 for adult situations and a little bit of dicey language; for the health and safety of the actor, they are requiring audience members wear masks.

The brilliance continues, Tuesday-Sunday through Oct. 23 at the Rep, 601 Main St. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 378-0405 or online at

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