Two fascinating shows with suicide at the center

Two fascinating shows with suicide at the center

Two fascinating shows with suicide at the center
William Thomas Hodgson stars in Center REP’s “Every ­Brilliant Thing” through Jan. 28 at the Lesher Center. (Photo by Colin Mandlin)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Jan. 17, 2024) — If you were asked to make a list of things that make life worth living, what would you put down?

This is exactly the premise of Duncan Macmillan’s one-man show “Every Brilliant Thing,” playing at Walnut Creek’s Center REP.

Macmillan, who wrote the piece with assistance from actor Jonny Donahoe, balances the struggles of life with its celebration in this poignant coming-of-age story. In the play, a young mother recuperates in the hospital following a suicide attempt. Her 7-year-old son makes a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world for her to read, hoping it will stop her from trying to take her life again.

“Every Brilliant Thing” deals with a tragic topic through brilliant writing and touches of humor as the main character goes from childhood to adulthood. Looking back on a life full of ups and downs, he takes the audience on an aspiring journey celebrating pleasure in the mundane as he and the audience read items from his ever-growing list. (Ice cream is No. 1.)

Award-winning director Jeffrey Lo guides William Thomas Hodgson as he gives a charismatic performance as the young boy/man. The engaging Hodgson draws the audience in as he weaves the story of his family with a mixture of humor and tenderness.

It’s amazing to watch this accomplished performer as he effortlessly navigates a plethora of conflicting emotions for what becomes an extremely satisfying theatrical journey.

“Every Brilliant Thing” runs through Jan. 28 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr. Additional matinees have been added to accommodate audiences. Call 925-943-7469 or go to

An Inspector Calls

Jess Rodgers, left, Skyelar Clouse and Mark Alan Flores appear in the mystery drama “An Inspector Calls.” It plays through Jan. 21 at the Martinez Campbell Theater. (Photo by Savanna Daniels)

J.B. Priestley’s multifaceted mystery “An Inspector Calls” begins the new year for Plotline Theatre Company. Considered one of the classics of mid-20th century English theater, Priestley’s work weaves a complex story of a young working-class woman’s possible suicide, her associations with a wealthy family who may have contributed to her death and harsh criticism of Victorian and Edwardian English society into an intriguing piece of theater.

The play takes place in the spring of 1912 at a family engagement celebration. It turns into a nightmare when a very aggressive police inspector intrudes. Through a seemingly unrelated chain of events, the inspector shows each person’s responsibility for the girl’s death, acting as if he is not only the family’s conscience but also that of society.

Set designer Diane McRice fashioned a well-appointed period parlor to create the ambiance necessary for the action to take place. Dave Pursley’s lighting and Jana McDowell’s period costumes and wigs help complete the picture.

Randy Anger directs a talented cast. This includes Jason Berner as Inspector Goole, Beth Chastain, Skyelar Clouse, Kieran Cross, Savannah Daniels, Mark Alan Flores and Jess Rodgers.

“An Inspector Calls” continues through Jan. 21 at the Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St., Martinez. Go to for tickets.

Stu Klitsner

The incredible actor, friend and teacher Stu Klitsner died Jan. 4 at the age of 97. Stu impressed everyone he ever met with his positive energy, creativity and friendliness.

Along with his fabulous wife Rhoda, who died in 2003, Stu graced local stages for many years. He also appeared in Hollywood films, television shows and commercials. A standing-room only memorial ceremony was held Jan. 8. Such a presence in this world will be missed.

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Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to