Ice cream. Water fights. Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV. UK playwright Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing is about a list of the wonderful things, small and large, that make life worth living.

“The list began after her first attempt,” Kate Mulvany tells the audience at Belvoir St Theatre, who are sitting in the round with the house lights up, several clutching pieces of coloured paper.

Every Brilliant Thing, Belvoir St Theatre, Kate MulvanyKate Mulvany in Belvoir St Theatre’s Every Brilliant Thing. Photo © Brett Boardman

Macmillan based the play on his short story Sleeve Notes, first performed by Rosie Thomson, which the writer, along with director George Perrin, built into a full-length play over a period of ten years (during which time it also appeared as an installation). Jonny Donahoe premiered Every Brilliant Thing at the Ludlow Fringe Festival in 2013, and his creation of the play live on stage in front of hundreds of audiences as it toured – eventually to the 2016 Perth Festival and Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre – earned him a billing as co-writer. A show for solo actor, Macmillan specifies that the nameless narrator “can be...