Tough Love 

Action/Adventure's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

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You have two more weekends to catch Action/Adventure Theatre's production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by John Patrick Shanley—the Academy Award-winning writer/director of other works like Joe Versus the Volcano, Moonstruck, and Doubt.

Danny has been called a fairy tale, but it's a fairy tale set in the Bronx with a dive bar for a castle, a homicidal truck driver for a prince, a suicidal single mom for a princess, and a one-night stand for happily ever after.

Dainichia Noreault plays Roberta, the petite, brooding beauty who packs a mean sucker punch. She shifts from cool deadpan to attack mode in a split second to get what she wants, and what she wants is one nice night of sleep, free of ghosts and guilt.

In answer to her prayer, Danny (JR Wickman) walks into the same dingy bar, with bloody fists clutching a pitcher of cheap beer. He can't go home, because he says he would have to fight everybody in the Bronx to get there. The guys at work call him the Beast.

Directed by Tamara Carroll, Noreault and Wickman make a dynamic pair. Their verbal and physical chemistry sparks whether they are seated at a curious but cautious distance at the bar or tangled together in bed. They each achieve compelling heights in the surreal speeches that make Danny a favorite source for audition monologues.

My only gripe has to do with the play, not the production. The conflict in the story is too isolated and internal (with the exception of a few brief moments of violent outburst, impressively choreographed by Kristen Mun and Tom Moorman). Shanley created two very sad, angry, lonely people who have no other connection except that they are sad, angry, and lonely in the same bar and the same bed. Their individual conflicts never really intersect until the end, and even then, the rootless quality of their love is unsettling and highly suspect. Just like in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, the romance leaves me with no happy feelings when I remember that she's a prisoner and he's an angry dude only recently softened by warm, mushy feelings.

But perhaps the happily ever after isn't what this play is about. At one point, Danny confesses, "It ain't a lot what I want, I don't see why I can't get it. But I can get a day, can't I?"

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