Everyman, is probably the most studied medieval morality and a staple of the college theatre curriculum. These morality plays were short, produced in Christian European countries with the goal of teaching the audience about the morals of humanity. The character Everyman (or in BYU’s modern adaptation, Everyone) is told by Death that their time is almost up, so Everyone asks characters such as Friend, Family, Knowledge, and Charity to help them prepare for their reckoning. The medieval point of the play is to teach the audience about how people and riches will not stay with them after mortality. Instead, only Good Deeds can help them in the end.
Ty Hawton, a student at BYU, adapted the script of Everyman to Everyone to fit a more modern sensibility. While this is a fun idea, and makes for a thought-provoking play, the traits talked about in Everyman are not seen the way they are today, nor is religion viewed the same way it was in late medieval England, so certain themes do not translate as well into modern day as well as one would like them to. For example, the medieval Good Deeds, the character who does successfully help Everyman in the end, is changed to Charity. While charity and good deeds and charity are nearly the same thing, and Knowledge even makes a small joke about the change. By all means it was a funny joke, but pointing out the difference in names did leave the implication that good deeds no longer exist but charity does, and that message was confusing.
As for the title itself, switching from Everyman to Everyone made me assume that it would be a rather genderless portrayal of the character, so that every audience member would be able to relate to the story. However, every actor and character was female, and it begs me to ask why they didn’t change the title to Everywoman. The sixteenth century Everyman is a generally uncharacterized, personality-less man, meant to be relatable to the audience, regardless of profession. Everyone, while played very well by Freja Jorgenson, is specifically portrayed as a wealthy and successful businesswoman, which makes for a character that is only relatable to a much smaller demographic. Her story is still compelling, but at some point she no longer represents everyone.
As for the production itself, Jones has created an entertaining evening. All nine actors played their parts convincingly, most notably Darci Ramirez as Charity, Elizabeth Gibson as Riches and Wit, and Camden Wawro as Knowledge. The backgrounds and projection, designed by Erin Dinell Bjørn, were fun, peppy, and set the scene well. And a few times in the show, actors changed costumes (which were designed by Karaleigh Garrison), in ways that genuinely surprised me, and had me thinking things like, “Hair can still look that smooth after being pulled back for that long?”
Being a streaming production, there were bound to be little mishaps like actors forgetting to unmute themselves, but there were also technological elements that strengthened the production. During the pre-show, there was music playing that was a great blend of medieval and modern music, an effective way of bringing the audience into the world of the play. During the play, when Everyone was going to meet each character, there was played music and a short video introducing the audience to the idea of that character, which helped as a great segue between the episodes in the play. At the end of the show, the played “credits” for the actors, showing their social media handles and a picture of them. All of these choices embraced the online streaming medium and contributed to the show as being a mix of live performance and technology.
Overall, BYU’s Everyone is an entertaining short play, great for understanding and thinking about life and how we should spend it. While I have my own hang-ups about the adaptation and how current society views the world differently than a sixteenth century audience would have, that should not stop anyone from enjoying this production.