When the curtain comes up on this revival of John Patrick Shanley’s miniature classic Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Lucille Lortel Theatre, to Jan. 7), so perfect is Scott Pask’s design—a third character in its opening scene—we really feel as if we too are in a Bronx dive bar in the dregs of late evening as its two bruised lead characters, Roberta (Aubrey Plaza) and Danny (Christopher Abbott) eye the bottoms of their glasses of beer and the wells of self-hatred they are both too familiar with beyond that. A picture window posits a glittering Manhattan far beyond them, a frozen snow globe of a world far away. They too feel frozen, if differently.
Shanley’s play is 40 years old this year, a favorite of acting students wanting to get their gnashers around its proudly pummeling text. Even before they’ve said a word to each other, we can see the snarls and screams inside both characters. It’s a meet-ugly that inevitably gets cuter, but not before the two characters put each other through two relentlessly dark nights of the soul, with screaming, shouting, and physical abuse to underscore all the pain.
Both are damaged, both are hiding secrets. The 80-minute run time may sound short, but given the emotional energy unleashed in front of us, the play, directed by Jeff Ward, can feel exhausting—as if we are trapped in a room with two people whose echoing, deeply damaged natures shouldn’t be yoked together, no matter how attractive they are and no matter how the text, you just know, will conspire to get them there. Trapped in a theater with them for almost an hour and half, you will gulp the cold night air on exiting.
Source: The Daily Beast
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