If you want a one-sentence review: Philadelphia Theatre Company’s production of Chelsea Marcantel’s emotional and thought-provoking Everything is Wonderful is gorgeous. I could very easily stop there and I think you would know enough.
For those who want to know more: Everything is Wonderful is an exploration of forgiveness, accountability, loss, and community. These topics are explored through the story of an Amish family reeling from their loss of their two sons in a drunk driving accident. When the driver (J. Hernandez), comes to stay with them, the parents (Blair Sams and William Zielinski) are forced to put their Amish ideas of total forgiveness to the test. Things are complicated when their eldest daughter Miri (Katie Kleiger) returns home after turning away from the Amish community five years prior.
Director Noah Himmelstein has crafted a cinematic theatrical experience. Scenes begin right after the other, almost immediately on different parts of the stage. He uses the stunning and versatile set (Daniel Ettinger) and some of the most effective lighting I’ve seen in Philadelphia (Cory Pattak) to move the action swiftly between past and present. The ensemble is also well-directed. Kleiger, Sams, and Zielinski particularly shine in their challenging roles. I left the theater feeling exhilarated and emotionally full.
[Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street] February 14-March 8, 2020; philadelphiatheatrecompany.org