Performed in New Zealand for the first time in over a decade, the gripping tale of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley is back thanks to the director Sara Wiseman, who played Roberta years ago in the show she says inspired her to become an actor.
The protagonists, Roberta and Danny, meet in a forgotten bar in New York’s Bronx. This chance meeting sparks a spontaneous night of heart thumping confession, love and chaos. Using the stripped down look of the Basement Theatre, some dusty looking furniture and subtly clever lighting, the set really felt like the Bronx had landed in Auckland. Being able to create a night to day, two location setting with only one dark room and stage lighting is a true feat in itself, but the creators of this production did that and more; giving the impression of loneliness with ghostly shadows and changing location with the flick of a light.
As a further trick to the senses, the audience is subconsciously transported from an underground room to the inner city by the indecipherable transition from bar music to light traffic sounds. Even the introduction of the morning chirping birds seems natural and life like in the din of the basement room. If you’re not convinced enough by these exceptional creative accompaniments then the consistent and convincing Bronx accents of the two Kiwi actors will certainly pull you deeper into this world of misfits, mistakes and dysfunctional love.
Jodie Hillock (Roberta) and Frank Borrell (Danny) work seamlessly together to manipulate their emotions of the audience; luring you into their chaotic minds with true conviction. Despite premiering over thirty years ago, and thousands of miles away from Auckland, the story of Danny and Roberta feels timeless and relevant. You are jolted between anger, heartache, giggling, sadness and reckless love laced with spontaneous twists and intriguing turns. Unfortunately, it’s only in Auckland for another week so make haste and see this show.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea will remind you that love is tough but forgiveness can be tougher.
Playing at the Basement Theatre until 2 September.
Reviewed by Lindsey Catherine