Danny And The Deep Blue Sea, Old Red Lion Theatre – Review


A cross between Tennessee Williams’ Stanley Kowalski and Charles Bukowski’s literary alter ego Henry Chinaski, Danny (Gareth O’Connor) drinks by himself at a run down bar in the Bronx, New York. The only other person in the establishment is Roberta (Megan Lloyd-Jones) drinking and eating her stash of nuts. She looks up from her own time and notices Danny – a loner like herself, his knuckles and apparel covered in dried blood, drinking his pitcher of beer. This is a man whose silence and body language screams that he wants to be left alone. Without uttering a word, Roberta thinks she knows this man who is hurting in ways he cannot express, seeing the respite that only alcohol and solitude provides. Yes, she knows this man, for he is her reflection…

Directed by Courtney Larkin, John Patrick Shanley’s two-hander is in many ways a Bukowski novel come to life. Rejected by society, the only people who are loathe them more are themselves. Danny’s workmates refer to him as “The Beast”, but given his proclivity for ‘finding trouble’, they keep well away. He is very much like Peter Mullen’s character in Tyrannosaur

header-2Roberta’s circumstances, meanwhile, have been largely been inflenced by her ‘Italian’ family and Catholic upbringing. Fallen pregnant at 18, she’s forced by her family to marry a man she doesn’t truly love. She ends up having to move with her parents with her son and she’s stayed there ever since. She’s now 32, her son’s 13 and just to show her father who is actually in control, she does something she can never forgive herself for – something that all the “Our Father”s and “Hail Mary”s in the world cannot erase from memory…

Lloyd-Jones and O’Connor are a 1000% committed in their respective roles, two forces of nature that cancel each other out – Danny with his explosive temper and Roberta with her steadfast, unconditional compassion.

Megan Lloyd-Jones and Gareth O’Connor / © Ben Bardsley-Ball

There’s a saying that you know when someone truly loves you when someone knows your most shameful secret and they still want to be with you. That is Robert and Danny provide for each other, a relationship similar to Joseph and Hannah in Tyrannosaur who through serendipity find each other and absolve each other’s pasts.

Danny And The Deep Blue Sea is undoubtedly brutal at times, but for all its rage and intense moments, it is full of hope – more than any play I can think of on the top of my head. But it is not a hope built on a whimsical wish. It is a hope that acknowledges the ugly parts of life and of our natures – and still dares to lift its head because of the other’s acceptance and forgiveness. It is an ending all the sweeter because of the depths the couple found themselves in initially.

© Michael Davis 2017


Danny And The Deep Blue Sea runs at Old Red Lion Theatre until 24th June 2017.


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