This HBO premiere, airing Dec. 26 at 8 pm, is the film version of the hit off-Broadway one-man show of the same name. British comedian Jonny Donahoe is outstanding in this show written by Duncan Macmillan, describing a man whose life has been lived in the shadow of his mother’s suicide. When he was seven, his mother first tried to take her life; the young boy’s reaction was to make a list pointing out all the wonderful things in life worth living for. Ice cream is one of the first entries, and they go on from there, the color yellow, a good book, chocolate, and so on. As the boy grows up, his mother again attempts suicide when he is a teenager, and his list continues, but changes with the wants and likes of a teenager. Again as an adult, the mother tries again. The son continues on with his list, and continues to deal with the myriad of emotions such a family dynamic brings.
One unusual aspect of this play turned film is the audience participation. Members are given items from the list to read out, and also act out key figures in the narrator’s life. The audience members do such a good job, you wonder if they are actually actors paid for the role!
At turns funny, sad, poignant, and utterly unique, this engaging film is the perfect antidote to the holiday blues many of us feel this time of year. With the challenges and pitfalls of family life and the holidays forefront on our minds, this film is perfect for the day after Christmas. With honesty, humor and insight, this film addresses depression, suicide, and the effects of them on family members for years to come. Skillfully directed by Emmy Award winning directors Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, this film is highly recommended.
As noted in the film, every 38 seconds someone in the United States attempts suicide. Anyone who is depressed or contemplating suicide needs to immediately reach out for help and support.