Danny And The Deep Blue Sea

Danny And The Deep Blue Sea
St. George’s West (Venue 157)
4 stars ****

IT”S NOT A new play, or even one that’s old enough to have come back into fashion again; it belongs to that time in the early 1980’s when – with society becoming harsher, more competitive and less compassionate – people looked increasingly to their private lives for some kind of redemption.

Yet John Patrick Shanley’s Danny And The Deep Blue Sea remains a terrifically compelling drama, a searingly honest two-handed play that confronts just one question, deeply personal to us all; the question of whether it is true that romantic love – discovered in a single night – can transform lives, put dreams within reach, and protect us from the worst the world has to offer. Roberta and Danny are two deeply damaged people, already heavily scarred by life at the age of 30 or so, who meet one night in a bar in the Bronx, and somehow – with a little sex, and many outbursts of rage, and some heart-stopping moments of tenderness – decide to love another, and to see where that takes them.

At St. George’s West, this play is performed by 8(Ocho) of Berlin with a searing intensity, in what must be two of the finest acting performances on this year’s Fringe, from Alessija Lause and Nikolaus Szentmiklosi. The Brooklyn accents are pretty perfect, the live guitar music by Ivica Vrgoc provides a powerful, understated backbeat. The key to the production’s success, though, lies in the precise and powerful response to this play from two actors – one German/Croatian, the other Hungarian/ Romanian – who grew up far from Brooklyn; but who recognise in this story a hard, brave, beautiful drama about the human capacity to dream of happiness, and how it survives the toughest transitions, the hardest beatings, and the deepest emotional wounds.

Joyce McMillan
Until 29 August


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