Everybody—A play that contemplated the meaning of life
Theatre Erindale’s final main stage production left audiences pondering over major worldly philosophies.

Theatre Erindale’s production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Everybody was an existential romp through the process of dying. Set in a mid-20th century style office, Everybody, directed by Leah-Simone Bowen, featured a unique form of casting. Each member of the ensemble was required to memorize every character’s role. During the show, an audience member randomly selected cards from a Rolodex, which provided the cast with their assigned roles. The audience was told that there were 120 possible variations of the play. This form of lottery casting symbolized the existential uncertainty of death.

As the show began, members of the cast were seated amongst the audience. After the traditional land acknowledgment, an usher took the stage (Jimmy Omino). He spent ample time discussing the play’s origins—Everybody is based on the 15th-century play Everyman. The usher then revealed that he is in fact God and commanded Death (Hannah Mitchell), a clerical worker, to summon the remaining cast members, prompting the usher/God to perform the casting lottery within the audience. 

On the evening of March 24, 2023, the lottery selected Reena Goze as Everybody. Everybody was tasked with putting together a presentation of their life but struggled to remember the key moments that made their life memorable. Everybody remembered that they were allowed to take someone with them to the afterlife, so they sought out Friendship (Chloé Castrucci). 

Next, Everybody confided in Cousin (Sierra Small) and Kinship (Nasim Ramirez), two family figures that appeared excitedly but soon became concerned at the idea that God is real. Everybody informed them that their beliefs depend on their definitions of reality. As the plot progressed, Cousin panicked at the idea that they should prepare for a post-death experience, while in a dark turn of events, Kinship offered up a child (Brynn Bonne) as Everybody’s companion in death. When Everybody rejected the offer, Kinship abducted the child.

With more complex plot twists, Everybody realized that many of their memories lie in Stuff (Devin McEachern). But they learned that it is impossible to take their friends, family, and things with them into the afterlife.

After a loud interruption from an irritated member of the audience (Abigail Henry), Everybody is reminded that they are living within a play—a very meta-theatrical moment. With ensemble characters switching between Love, Understanding, Strength, Beauty, Sense, and Mind, the play contemplated some of life’s most prominent motifs that merged worldly beliefs and realities.   

I found it impressive that each actor memorized every role in Everybody. Goze’s portrayal of Everybody was so natural, it was as if they knew all along that they would be the lead. With his portrayal of the usher/God, Omino fantastically balanced the light and dark themes in the play. His stand-out performance offered a sense of grim humour that brought levity to the daunting life questions that the play focused on. Mitchell perfectly portrayed the anxiousness that comes with Death with her eerie monologue—where she prompted Everybody to obey Death. Finally, Henry’s portrayal of Love, a character that showed up halfway through the play, showcased the complexities that come with clinging to love as one’s only hope. 

Everybody focused on searching for the meaning of life by dancing with existentialism and other human philosophies. A line in the play suggested that, “the point of life is that we all have to wrestle with it on our own terms.” 

Theatre Erindale Correspondent (Volume 50); Associate Arts & Entertainment Editor (Volume 49) — Megan is majoring in English with minors in Creative Writing and History. She served as Associate Arts & Entertainment Editor for Volume 49. Her love of the arts and experience in theatre and music are the backbone of Megan’s work with The Medium. Aside from her academics and journalistic endeavours, Megan can be found writing original music for streaming platforms, playing her pink Fender Jazz Bass, writing spooky detective stories, longing for the mountains of BC, and watching Disney+. Her preferred instruments of writing are her notes app and her 1970s Erika typewriter. You can connect with Megan on InstagramX, and LinkedIn.


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