It has been said about John Patrick Shanley’s second play, "Danny and The Deep Blue Sea," that it’s like watching a prize fight where the two fighters fall in love at the end, which is a pretty perfect description I think.
It’s certainly tough to watch at times.
Two deeply damaged and broken people, Roberta and Danny, meet in a bar in the Bronx. Danny is socially awkward, to say the least, veering from obnoxious to abusive and openly aggressive. He is not a charmer. Violence oozing out of every pore, it seems to take all his energy to stop from exploding. Roberta is restless and alone, searching for someone to help her feel something, anything other than the hatred she feels for herself.
(L-R): J. Bailey Burcham
So they collide rather than meet. Pushing each other's buttons until exhausted, they fall into each other, and into a desperate, hot and fitting kind of love. Roberta takes Danny home and in the morning they wrestle with the possibility that they could have found someone to truly be with - without judgement, without trying to change who they are.
The intense pain they feel in forgiveness is palpable.
The play is completely riveting, like watching a slow motion car crash in reverse. There’s no let-up, no respite from these two crazed and heartbreaking individuals. We can do nothing but watch with awe as they navigate their own and each other's neuroses, dodging truth bullets as deftly as superheroes, hoping for peace and feeling unworthy.
Renee Marino plays Roberta with an intensity and a broken kind of power…just spectacular to watch. J Bailey Burcham’s Danny is all ‘beast’ and outcast writhing in his own skin. They are both repulsed and attracted to each other, like spinning magnets, anything could happen at any time.
(L-R): J. Bailey Burcham and Renée Marino
Have you have ever wondered how some people could ever be in a relationship with anyone? When a person you encounter seems to be from another world almost, so alien, so unlikeable that no one could want them? These two characters are exactly that and yet, like anyone of us, they still want love, needing it perhaps more than any of us.
I’ve seen plays and films where I don’t really like any of the characters, can’t identify with them, can’t sympathize with them, or just find them pointless or obnoxious and irredeemable. I always think I should like someone, have to, in order to be deeply affected by the work. But “Danny and The Deep Blue Sea” isn’t like that, it is something very different, it goes beyond caring if we approve, which is quite brilliant.
I don’t like either of these people, they are both so flawed and twisted and hard. But I don’t need to, and they certainly wouldn’t care at all if I did or not. That is really not the point of this play at all. We don’t have to like them, we just have to know them. And I do know them and I did care and that is all because of the performances, all the responsibility of these two fine actors connecting with each other and making us care.
The director Ronnie Marmo has brought us these difficult, wild characters and humanized them. With his skill and his empathy we see them as hopeful, as not entirely lost, and as they reveal themselves to each other, their fierceness falls away betraying their damage and their beauty. It’s easy to forget the importance of a director in theatre, Ronnie Marmo is a compassionate and important guide through this heart-wrenching play.
There’s no doubt that this play is extraordinary, that John Patrick Shanley, who wrote "Moonstruck," "Doubt," "The January Man" and "Joe Versus The Volcano," who has been awarded a Tony, an Oscar and a Pulitzer Prize, can write…boy can he. So do yourself a very big favor and get yourself a ticket to see “Danny and The Deep Blue Sea” at Theatre 68. This is the kind of play that must be seen, and when you have these two brilliant performances on your doorstep it would be shameful to miss it.
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood , 91601
March 11 - April 2
Thursday, Friday, Saturday @ 8 PM and Sunday @ 2 PM
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Ronnie Marmo
Produced by Panic Productions