How far do we go to avoid confronting the deepest, darkest secrets in our lives? That’s the question asked in Kennedy Theatre’s newest addition to its late night repertoire, “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea”, which premiered this weekend at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre. Directed by Lavour Addison, the show takes the audience to present-day Brooklyn, at the scene of an unlikely encounter between a man and a woman with deep internal problems that threaten to send them both off the deep end.
“I chose this play because it showcases the strength of humanity overcoming circumstance,” Addison said in a press release, and this strength is demonstrated to the viewer in the quality performances of the actors.
A PAIR OF ACES
Written by Bronx local John Patrick Shanley, Kennedy’s production stays true to its location, as both actors adopt heavy New York accents, lending a layer of credibility to the tense dialogue between the two. The quick, snarky conversations between Danny (Leon Sheen) and Roberta (Kaitlin Souza) are sufficient to bring laughter at one minute only to reduce it to awkward silence the next, as the story develops and emotions between the two transform during the course of the show.
The play is remarkable because it feels full and complete: A combination of excellent casting and acting ability never make a dull moment, even with the same two characters dominating the stage for the whole play. This is Danny and Roberta’s story, and they tell it not only through conversation but what goes unsaid between the two as well.
Everyone is crazy, or we can believe they are crazy. When tasked with half the lines in a show, it’s hard enough to simply memorize them, let alone deliver them with enough body language and deliberation to convince the audience that the character really is at a breaking point. It is this use of body language and nonverbal communication between the characters that make their performances believable and compelling. From Danny’s nervous twitches to Roberta’s aura of desperation and panic, it is far too easy to forget that the two people screaming at each other in front of us will later be smiling at the cheering audience and holding hands at the post-show curtain call.
From a technical standpoint, “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” keeps it simple. The stage is roughly the size of a small classroom, ensuring that the show is close to the viewer. Aside from a few basic pieces of furniture, the show makes little use of scenery, but this arrangement works well. There is just Danny and Roberta, and they tell their stories and secrets so well that the presence of the two on the stage is all that’s needed to keep things interesting.
Why are Danny and Roberta so crazy? You’ll have to see the show to find out. Suffice to say that they both have problems and, just like anyone else, must find a way to solve them before it’s too late. By slowly opening up to one another, Danny and Roberta take the audience on an adventure into the mind of madness that can only be described as shocking and engrossing. Although at times violent and certainly not for the faint of heart – the show is recommended for mature audiences – “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” is worth staying up late this weekend to see.
4½ out of 5 torches
‘DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA’
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16; 11 p.m.
WHERE: Earle Ernst Lab Theatre
COST: $10 general admission, $8 seniors, military, UH faculty and staff, non-UH Manoa students, $5 UH Manoa students with a validated ID for spring 2013
CONTACT: 808-956-7655, hawaii.edu/kennedy