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Everybody, Shakespeare Theatre Company

In the medieval morality play The Summoning of Everyman, European Christians were presented with the story of a man at the end of his days, trying to find a companion to help him make a reckoning of his life before God. All earthly connections and powers fail him, with the lone exception of Good Deeds, who first has to be strengthened by confession and a good old-fashioned scourging, before Everyman is able to be taken by Death and welcomed into heaven. The message is clear: keep on the good side of the church, do good things, and remember that nothing else matters in the end. It's a bleak outlook in a lot of ways, but then, it does have the shine of an actual, guaranteed happy ending (so long as you follow the rules).

For Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, the playwright of Everybody, that straightforward path to a post-mortem victory isn't so obvious. We retain the same fears and anxieties about life and death, but the answers aren't necessarily clearcut for all that the questions …

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