originally published August 2008

Donnie Darko Poster

Darko Poster

The 2001 mind bending thriller originally written by Richard Kelly who also directed the blockbuster film has been adapted by Jamie MacDonald, a project he’s been working on for quite some time. The story is set in Middlesex, Virginia back in 1988 and features a sleepwalking socially awkward Donnie who sees hallucinations and possibly borders as a schizophrenic though it’s never diagnosed. Frank, who only appears hidden in a rabbit costume, is Donnie’s imaginary friend who both saves him from a jet engine in his bedroom and warns of the apocalypse at midnight on October 2. Sound sensational? According to MacDonald, his stage version will not disappoint, he’s even got the jet engine to prove it.

For those that have no idea, what’s Donnie Darko all about?
It is about the ambiguity of life, the enlightenment and disorientation that everyone goes through.  It harnesses the harmony of anarchy, the optimism in apathy, and the destiny of chance.  Lost? Come see the show and you’ll understand what I’m saying, but somehow, you still won’t, and neither do I and maybe we’re not supposed too.

Why did you choose this film?
I wanted to do something that everyone would say was impossible and do it in such a way that people wouldn’t know how it was done.  I also wanted to show young people that theatre can actually kick ass.

Was it difficult to differentiate your adaptation from the film?
I feel like it’s not my job to differentiate from the film, just to make it possible and worth doing on stage, without compromising the themes and values of this incredible film.

What makes the “dark night” performances different?
Something tells me that it will be the audience that makes the difference in the ‘dark night’ shows (laughs). Truthfully though, the ‘dark night’ shows are less about what time they start, and more so about the time of night it will end. True Donnie Darko fans will know what time is significant to the movie, the time when all the chaos begins.

Sensational special effects – what can people expect?
An elaborate sound design which will blow people’s socks off and musical score that pays homage to the movie, without just straight up copying it. Film projections with digital enhancement that interacts directly with the actors as well as our UV light creations that I won’t divulge (it’s the ace up our sleeve). A full size jet engine that is more than just a jet engine; I’ve said too much already!

How big is the cast?
I believe it is 36 people, 22 leads and 14 people in the extra roles.  This doesn’t include backstage or promotions so our grand total of folks helping out may be around 50 or so.

Were there blocks omitted from the film either for personal choice or because of known challenges translating them for stage?
We have faced all the challenges that Donnie Darko presents head on!  We have bridged certain characters into one but pretty much all the classic dialogue is there, as well as extending certain scenes that we would’ve loved to hear in the movie. Some scenes that take place in the same location have been [blended] together (hopefully seamlessly). For example, the audience gets one 5 minute scene, which in the movie were five one minute scenes.

What are some of the highlights of the show and people to watch out for?
Things that fly, morph, glow, float and go bump in the night.

How to check it out?

Call Holy Heart Theatre at 579 4424 for tickets. Show nights are August 28-30. Regular start time is 8pm, plus Friday and Saturday have the “dark night” performances at 10:30pm.

S. Darko Poster

S. Darko Poster

Film Follow Up
For Donnie Darko fans who’ve hoped for more, a sequel for which Fox has already acquired North American distribution for is in the works and titled S. Darko. Being made for $10 million, Donnie will not return however Daveigh Chase will reprise as Samantha Darko, the story now focusing on her. This time Richard Kelly isn’t involved having said he never wanted a sequel to maintain the integrity of the original. The sequel will be directed by Chris Fisher who “hopes to create a similar world of blurred fantasy and reality.”