A ROBUST PRODUCTION OF JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY’S “DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA”
A Robust Production of John Patrick Shanley’s “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea”.
A new theatrical company Flynn Spirit Productions recently presented a strong production of John Patrick Shanley’s 1983 play “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” at the Phoenix Theatre. His 70 minute drama is an unlikely love story about two persons who meet in bar. This is no ordinary courtship and seems more on the order of a sadomasochistic romance with the opening scenes resembling a main event from a World Wrestling match.
Danny (Paul Ulloa) and Roberta (Kimberly Roberts) are sitting in a grubby little bar in the Bronx. She is sitting at a table nursing a beer and he is at the next table with a big pitcher of beer with bruised knuckles, snarling and seething with dangerously irrepressible aggression. Danny thinks he’s just killed a man and Roberta is a divorced mother who lives with her parents and her teenage son. The scene is set for some highly convincing counterpoint between two extremely damaged persons.
Roberta has a bowl of pretzels on her table and Danny asks for one. She hardly flinches only to tell him to “fuck off” What follows is yelling and screaming to these two mismatched souls. They exchanges abuses, vulgarities and damning admissions. He ends up damn nearly strangling Roberta. However the two are pulled together through their loneliness and he ends up starting a strange romance
What’s remarkable about Patrick Stanley’s script is that nothing happens. The two meet, they get talking, go back to her house and spend the night together. But the quality of the playwright’s dialogue, evoking a Bronx drawl in phrases like “ I think I killed a guy last night” that fills the play with atmosphere.
Paul Ulloa and Kimberley Roberts are excellent in their role. The energy and chemistry between the two is overwhelming. Ulloa conveys the self-sabotaging urges of someone fearful to hope. Kimberley Roberts low sultry stare make it hard to take your eyes off her and she sits at the table. She pitches the angry young woman perfectly. She delivers her lines in the second act with delightfully chromatic vocal range. She is at her best in the bedroom scene and prevents any sense of tedium from creeping into her longer soliloquy about a drug-induced hallucination.
Director Estelle Piper removes distractions by making the three sided stage bare apart from actors and two tables in the first act and a bed in the second act. Her staging is well judged by losing the distractions so we can concentrated on the small world of these two social misfits.
“Danny and Deep Blue Sea” closed on May 3rd at the Phoenix Theatre.