Sitting in the small black box at the Old Red Lion Theatre, I eagerly waited to be engrossed by a powerful story about love and relationships. This space has left me with high expectations from the past, and with only 80 minutes, two actors and one sharp script, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea left me astounded by its brilliant performance.
John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is an intensely gripping story about two outcasts meeting in a bar and discovering happiness in an unconventional relationship. It begins as Danny grudgingly sits in a bar and meets the particularly agitated Roberta drinking nearby. The two begin to banter about their shipwrecked lives and it didn’t take long for the scene to violently heat up. Danny and the Deep Blue Sea tackles the depths of finding happiness and love in the rockiest of places.
The most challenging aspect of this play was the execution of making these characters come alive on stage. Their narratives were filled with pain, shame, and the desire to finding comfort. Gareth O’Connor (Danny) and Megan Lloyd-Jones (Roberta) were genuine, honest and compelling to watch. O’Connor always sitting on the edge of a violent rage was terrifying. Lloyd-James as an Italian woman from the Bronx had a fierce spark in her that inflated the energy in the room. The two were emotionally riveting as they carried the weight of their beaten up characters.
Well directed by Courtney Larking, the interpretative dance was emotionally immersive. When tackling both violence and sex on stage, the choreography gave it a level of sensitivity within the passionate scenes. As they moved about the small black box theatre, the design of the set gave the space an intimate presence. This play was so simple by design, that it allowed the actors to truly discover the spirit within the story.
No one’s lives are perfect; we all have our skeletons hidden away in the closets. But, we don’t have to suffer and lose hope on a chance for true happiness – no matter who we are or what we have done. Danny and the Deep Blue Sea shows us how even two completely messed up and broken people can find happiness simply by changing their perspective in life.
Review by Aly Chromy
Following two castaways, Danny and Roberta, they fight their way to each other in a sea of hardship and cling violently for a chance at the happiness afforded to most but denied to them. Against the backdrop of a rundown bar in the Bronx, John Patrick Shanley’s play is an explosive and deeply affecting study of alienation and the redemptive power of love. Here lie the ingredients that make us human: the need to be heard, understood, loved and accepted, and the fear of not being any of them. New York is many things, but forgiving is not one of them.
Director: Courtney Larkin
Cast: Gareth O’Connor (Danny); Megan Lloyd-Jones (Roberta)
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at the Old Red Lion Theatre
Old Red Lion Theatre
418 St John Road, London EC1V 4NJ