Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A well-mixed tale

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

The Keep Theatre Company , Journeys - Cardiff 2nd-5th Feb 2003 , February 4, 2003
A new company. A new venue. A well proven play from a rising American Stage and Film writer/director. This exciting cocktail came splendidly up to expectations. We drank down draughts of angst and soul searching which left us, eventually with a warm and satisfying glow as, uncharacteristically, the well-mixed tale ended on a happy note, only just.

Two raw unwanted inarticulate misfits, Danny and Roberta, happen to find themselves near one another in a seedy Bronx bar. Whilst the two actors, Angel Bell and Eleanor Brunsdon successfully recreate the atmosphere with convincing American accents, they are clearly the universal misfits from which many of us may only be a step away.

Danny tattooed and scowling fidgets and constantly lights his cigarette, which he continues to do throughout the play even when his lighter has run out of fuel. Bell, who declares himself a ’method’ actor, seems to be working on two levels. He is totally convincing as the character Danny but also seems to be carrying his own internal friendly smile at the man he is portraying.

Roberta sits nervously nearby munching pretzels. Eventually Danny, who doesn’t look as if he does food or speaking, with a great effort and an almost inarticulate mumble asks her for one. ‘Piss Off’ or words to that effect is her characteristic reply. That’s what he gets all the time, so he goes back to his cigarette.

A few moments later she, perversely, offer him one. This he finds even harder to take and when she stands provocatively in front of him, does his head in! – He doesn’t do that stuff. As the violence and the shouting moves from one to the other we notice that there is something a little bit different about these two. The odd word of self-realisation slips out. Things begin to calm, Roberta lets herself dream, the dialogue softens, she reassures him. There is a mutual recognition. They spend a romantic, sort of, night together. He proposes marriage, she accepts. In the morning she wants to forget it all and throw him out. Danny has learned what being cared for, even momentarily, is like. They unload a lot of the baggage they have been carrying. Their story seems to end happily but no one can be sure. Not even Steve Harris who directed the play with a firm but sensitive hand.

The actors made the audience feel the power of the hardness that passed between them and we were willing them to get it together. It was a real achievement for the two of them to be able to command such close attention in a space that has, for the moment too many, distractions.

Journeys is offering itself as a café bar with a lot of cultural activities. It can make an exciting contribution to ‘arts’ for people on the east side of Cardiff but if it wishes to continue to present plays, even on a small scale, especially if they are as strong as this, it will need a bit of a rethink.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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