★★★★ | Tonight with Donny Stixx, The Bunker
Donny Stixx is a boy with problems. He’s the product of a troubled background but he’s putting all that behind him for one night of audience questions and answers as he jokes with the audience, winking cheekily and tells us all about his rise to fame and his magic act. Sadly, Donny isn’t as famous for his dated magic show as he is for other things and he’s not known as the most hated boy in England for nothing. His cheesy ‘end of the pier show’ facade soon drops and despite his rage at the questions about the shootings, he’s going to tell us all about it.
Multi award-winning playwright Philip Ridley is a master at capturing the darker side of the human condition and the story of Donny Stixx is a fine example of his work. Like its companion piece Dark Vanilla Jungle this is a one person show that features a troubled teenager. The script is witty and fast paced and almost dizzying as Donny bombards the audience with his repartee. There’s a cosy and domestic theme to his rambling that draws you in but soon falls apart as a much scarier and uncontained Donny breaks through.
Director David Mercatali has a fine pedigree of presenting Ridley’s works and this is no exception. Sean Michael Verey (Pramface) hits all the right notes as Donny. He manages to convey both an endearing vulnerability and a truly chilling rage as he interacts with an imaginary audience (don’t worry, there’s a fourth wall). It’s not hard to see why he won awards for this performance at The Edinburgh Fringe. The new space of The Bunker at Southwark is a fine home for a piece like this. It’s an intimate new 110 seat venue in an old underground car park (you may want to take a warm coat) next to The Menier Chocolate Factory (a short walk from London Bridge Station). The sparse staging helps to centre attention on Verey’s powerful performance.
Donny Stixx raises interesting issues about the nature of the lost and lonely teenager and how society can fail them. If you want an evening that’s funny but as far away from the saccharine highs of a West End musical as can be then this is a must see.
Tonight with Donny Stixx plays at The Bunker Theatre until 3rd December
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Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.