EVERY BRILLIANT THING by Duncan Macmillan, with Jonny Donahoe

Paines Plough


Founded in 1974, Paines Plough specialises exclusively in commissioning and producing new plays, and has produced more than 150 new works by seminal writers such as Abi Morgan, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, David Harrower, Enda Walsh, Simon Stephens and Mike Bartlett. The company has toured those plays to hundreds of places – from Manchester to Moscow – in spaces ranging from large and small-scale performance spaces to music festivals and nightclubs, and now also present their work in their very own award-winning pop-up theatre Roundabout.

When a six year-old boy’s mother tries to end her life, he starts a list of all the brilliant things in the world for her. This is award-winning playwright Duncan Macmillan’s poignant starting point for Every Brilliant Thing – a funny and heart-warming one-man show, based on true and untrue stories – which charts the journey of that list and its impact on the characters we meet. Performed by stand-up comedian Jonny Donahoe, who genuinely embraces the audience in a wonderfully inclusive theatrical experience, the show at its heart is a human story that confronts tough subjects: depression and our inability at times to make those we love happy.


In the press

“Heart-wrenching, hilarious… possibly one of the funniest plays you'll ever see, full stop” ★★★★ The Guardian

“Captivating… guaranteed to keep your eyes brimming… often very funny… takes the chill off the depths of a light-starved winter” New York Times

Production details

  • Writer

    Duncan Macmillan, Jonny Donahoe
  • Director

    George Perrin
  • Number of people on stage

  • Number of people in touring company

    2 (1 performer, 1 stage manager)
  • Freight


    One medium sized cardboard box containing paper, one portable keyboard, extra paper (dependant on list entries).

  • Touring Availability

    From 2016
  • Scale of venue

    Small-scale (capacity up to 400),
    Unconventional Space
  • Minimum performance space

    5m x 5m (or 4.5m diameter in the round)
  • Text-based

    Dense (important for audiences to have a good understanding of English)
  • Also contains:


In Edinburgh

  • Venue

    Roundabout 26a, Summerhall
  • Production dates

    8 – 30 AUGUST (not 11, 18 and 25 AUGUST)
  • Production times

    1405 – 1505
  • Duration

    60 MINS
  • Audience capacity



  • Address

    43 Aldwych
    WC2B 4DN
  • Email

  • Contact for touring

    Hanna Streeter
    +44 (0)207 2404533
    +44 (0)7894 403336


Paines Plough offers a selection of bespoke wrap-around events, including the rolling project COME TO WHERE I'M FROM in which local playwrights write and perform their own work about their home town, and the INSIGHTS programme which demystifies the professional theatre-making process through both remote digital and physical practical resources, including post-show discussions, pre-show workshops, blogs, podcasts, photo galleries and video channels.

Additional productions

LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan, OUR TEACHER'S A TROLL by Dennis Kelly, A NEW PLAY by Alexandra Wood