Prior to writing the Oscar-winning original screenplay for the film Moonstruck, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt, John Patrick Shanley was a struggling playwright who came to prominence with Danny and The Deep Blue Sea, originally produced Off-Broadway in 1984.
“Some fuckin bar. Nobody here.”
“That’s why I like it.”
“What’s the matter? You don’t like people?”
“No. Not really.”
This short play is now being simply and splendidly revived by YOLO! Productions at the Nuyorican Poets Café. It contains all of the trademarks of Shanley’s idiosyncratic worldview for which he has been celebrated. These include volatile, colorful characters conversing in poetically bombastic dialogue, while expressing their emotions and dealing with life’s upheavals that yield equally great comic and dramatic moments.
Roberta, a 31 year-old divorcée with a young son, lives with her parents. She’s drinking beer and eating pretzels in a Bronx bar where she meets Danny, a 29 year old who lives with his mother and who has a bandaged hand from a fight. Over the course of the evening, they histrionically share their feelings, and their lives are changed.
The stark, modest, black playing area for this production consists of two platforms initially with just two little tables and chairs representing the bar. Though seemingly with not much involved, Jerad Schomer’s small-scale set design contains enough details that precisely evoke the sense of place. With two intense and gifted actors performing on it, it is theater in its purest form.
Nairoby Otero as Roberta is a wondrous feisty spitfire, whose energy never subsides and deeply conveys the character’s poignant sense of despair. Michael Micalizzi hauntingly captures the essence of a hotheaded, lost soul as Danny. They each expertly deliver Shanley’s identifiably unique dialogue, getting all of the laughs while achieving pathos. Their chemistry together is tremendous and a huge asset.
Director Michelle Tattenbaum has perfectly staged all of the action, and her collaboration with the actors is inspiringly apparent from their deeply rich performances.
Danny and The Deep Blue Sea follows in the traditions of Paddy Chayefsky’s eloquent examinations of “the little people” most notably in Marty and the romantic lyricism of On The Waterfront. With its vividly ingratiating performances this production sharply realizes John Patrick Shanley’s insightful, optimistic, and timeless work.
“You see that round light up on that roof?”
“Yeah, I see it.”
“The guy who lives over there put that light up because he’s got a pigeon coop, and people were stealin his pigeons. Don’t you think it looks like the moon?”
“Come on, look at it!”
“All right. Yeah, it does a little.”
“Like a full moon every night. Shut up. What you doin?”
“Howlin at the moon.”
“Oh. Well you ain’t no wolf out in the woods, so keep it down…”
Danny and The Deep Blue Sea (through October 24th, 2014)
Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 East Third Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-780-9336 or visit http://www.vendini.com
Running time: one hour and twenty minutes with no intermission.