What a treat to pay my first visit to London’s newest venue – The Bunker, carved out of a carpark beneath the Menier Chocolate Factory – to host this post-show Q&A for Tonight with Donny Stixx.
I’m a little in awe of playwright Philip Ridley, whose myriad plays over the years have, in addition to Tonight with Donny Stixx, included Mercury Fur, Dark Vanilla Jungle, The Pitchfork Disney, Vincent River and The Fastest Clock in the Universe, which was the first play I ever saw at (the old, still in a portakabin) Hampstead Theatre.
At tonight’s event, Ridley was even funnier, friendlier and more fascinating than I expected. And he was happily aided and abetted by director David Mercatali and the one-man play’s star Sean Michael Verey, who are both die-hard Ridley champions. Tonight with Donny Stixx is the sixth Ridley play that Mercatali has helmed, and the third that he’s cast Verey in. It’s also the trio’s second go at this play: it was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and had a short run, as a companion piece with Ridley’s one-woman play Dark Vanilla Jungle (which starred Gemma Whelan), at Soho Theatre in 2015. It’s now being restaged at the Bunker care of Metal Rabbit Productions.
Aspiring magician Donny has committed an act that shocked everyone. Tabloids called him The Most Hated Boy Alive. But Donny doesn’t want forgiveness. All Donny wants is… his own television show.
What’s the secret to the team’s collaborative success? How rare are such happy collaborations in art and life? What are the challenges and rewards of a one-person show: performing, directing and writing? (Ridley’s latest play Karagula goes to the other extreme – with a cast of 100+!) How has Tonight with Donny Stixx changed (or rather how has our response to it changed – we all feel Donny’s rage now) since the ‘halcyon days’ of 2015? Are the magicians mentioned in the play real historic figures? And did you know: Philip Ridley himself designed the poster artwork…. what does it mean?
Tonight with Donny Stixx continues at the Bunker Theatre until 3 December 2016. There are further post-show events on 23 and 24 November and 2 December. Check the website for details.
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) November 17, 2016
Event photography by Charlotte Ledger.