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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Cult Classic is Reborn

28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. In director Marcus Stern’s production of Donnie Darko the countdown begins and ends with catastrophe.

Based on the 2001 Richard Kelly film that quickly became a cult classic, this live version, showing at Cambridge’s Zero Arrow Theatre, will not disappoint fans of the big screen version.

It is October of 1988. Michael Dukakis and George Bush are running for President of the United States. A brilliant, but twisted suburban Virginia teenager, Donnie Darko, is lured into the night by a giant rabbit named Frank, who tells Donnie that the world will end in exactly 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. And, so begins the countdown.

Donnie, played by Dan McCabe, begins to spin out of control. He is visited by Frank and persuaded to spread chaos through his community. Spiraling into a strange world where fantasy and reality intermix, Donnie finds himself with the fate of the world in his hands.

A mysterious plane engine falls from the sky and into Donnie’s bedroom. Grandma Death continues her fruitless journey to the mailbox, over and over again. Jim Cunningham continues to urge those filled with fear to love instead. Through it all, the future of the world hangs in the balance.

As the clock ticks off the days and hours until the end, Donnie is haunted by hallucinations, both visual and auditory. Everything and everyone around Donnie spins into disarray. The limited world of Middlesex, Virginia (family, friends, neighbors, and schoolmates) are all sucked into the frenzied vortex of those 28 plus days, everything boiling down to one critical moment in time.

This version of the tale, part of the American Repertory Theater’s slate for the 2007-2008 season, is a hectic work of scientific wonder. For first timers, the story may be hard to follow completely, but it is worth the trip to witness the magic of Stern’s vision.

The entire world of suburban Virginia (the Darko home, school, the golf course, bus stop, and psychiatrist’s office) is all packed onto the Zero Arrow stage at the same time. Stuffing so many locations into one small space is not as limited and confusing as it may seem, and instead serves as the perfect way to visualize the collision of plots and characters that take place during the 80 minute production.

Though performances throughout the show are all great, especially that of Thomas Derrah as motivational speaker Jim Cunningham and Karen McDonald as overprotective mother and teacher Kitty Farmer, it is the darkly comedic script that makes the price of the ticket more than worth it.

The show runs at the Zero Arrow Theater in Cambridge’s Harvard Square from October 27 through November 18 and is a must-see for all college students, especially those who are already fans of Donnie Darko. But, even if you’ve never seen the film, take the trip out one night and catch a live, on-stage performance of Donnie Darko while you still can.

For more information and to purchase tickets for Donnie Darko or any other American Repertory Theater productions visit the ART website at amrep.org.

About the Contributor
Michael Hogan served as the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Arts Editor: Spring 2007; Fall 2007