Review: Everything is Wonderful at Everyman Theatre

By Jack Rizzo

When tragedy strikes, humans are often met with the difficult choice to forgive and forget or hold onto our self-inflicted suffering. Everything is Wonderful, which opened last week at Everyman Theatre, explores the complex power dynamic at play when overcoming personal grief. At the core, it’s a lesson on forgiveness. One we all need to hear.
Bruce Randolph Nelson and Deborah Hazlett in Everything is Wonderful at Everyman Theatre.
Photo Credit: ClintonBPhotography

The play follows an Amish family after the death of their two sons in a fatal collision with their buggy. In the aftermath of the accident, the family struggles to maintain their steadfast faith. As a step toward forgiveness, the father welcomes the driver who killed the boys into their lives, letting him help on the farm and sleep in the barn. This causes problems within the family and prompts the return of their eldest daughter, Miri, to return home from her excommunication.

Chelsea Marcantel navigates the outwardly difficult subject with a beautiful balance of wit and raw emotion. Her writing is both entertaining and heartbreaking. Complimenting Marcantel’s captivating text is the remarkable set designed by Everyman’s resident scenic designer, Daniel Ettinger. He is able to transform a theatre in downtown Baltimore into a rustic barn in Amish Country with ease. His set is as crucial to the success of this production as the performers who walk on it night after night. I have yet to come across one of Ettinger’s sets that haven’t blown me away.  

Everyman resident member Bruce Randolph Nelson shines onstage as the Amish father, Jacob. His performance is incredibly dynamic, showing us the challenges of forgiving the unforgivable. Likewise, Deborah Hazlett as the Amish mother, Esther, soars in this production. She is especially moving in the way she carries herself onstage. The entire ensemble of actors work incredibly well together in getting this difficult message across to create a strong production. 

Everything is Wonderful will linger in your thoughts long after the curtain falls. This production genuinely touches the heart with tenderness; forcing you to find forgiveness in your own life. It’s a crucial piece of theatre that shouldn’t be missed.

If you go:
Everything is Wonderful
By: Chelsea Marcantel
Directed by: Noah Himmelstein
When: January 29, 2019 - February 24, 2019
Where: Everyman Theatre
  315 West Fayette Street
  Baltimore, MD 21201
Tickets: everymantheatre.org410-752-2208