It was first performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, tackling themes such as celebrity, mental health & the need for love. Donny develops an interest in magic tricks, soon becoming fixated on the idea of doing his own magic shows. With the help of his Aunt Jess he steadily gets more & more bookings, but when Donny’s world comes crashing down around him the day ends in disaster…
Ridley’s script is structured ingeniously. It’s clear from very early on that something dreadful has happened in Donny’s life & he wants to avoid talking about it; the details are slowly teased out until you feel certain you know what’s going to happen, giving you a rising sense of dread & helplessness.
The Bunker’s thrust stage thoroughly immerses you in Donny’s world as he tells his story. There is no need for any distractions by way of props or detailed background, keeping the focus on Donny himself.
A show of this nature can only really succeed in the hands of a truly talented actor, so script & performer combine to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. In Sean Michael Verey they have hit the jackpot.
He inhabits the role entirely, from a nervous entrance to over the top, boisterous performer, complete with instantaneous flashbacks to key moments in Donny’s past. It is pretty much non-stop, with barely a pause for breath – not once does Verey’s energy drop. He displays incredible stamina and brings Donny to life vividly & heartbreakingly, holding the audience in the palm of his hand.
In just over an hour, the audience is treated to a performance full of sharp humour that culminates in a moment of great pathos. The juxtaposition of comedy & tragedy throughout keeps the audience on the edge of their seat, as they wait to hear what will be revealed next.
My verdict? A play full of twists & turns that warns of the potential cost of the hunt for fame, and the effect of leaving a child in need of love & attention – all brought to life by the superb Sean Michael Verey.
Tonight With Donny Stixx runs at The Bunker Theatre until 3 December 2016. Tickets are available online and from the box office.