DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
When I first got invited to a local production of this John Patrick Shanley play, I had no idea that it had been around for almost as long as I have! (It’s actually the second play that he wrote, out of twenty-four.) So, the entire experience was new to me.
If I had known in advance that Shanley was the playwright, I might have sat it out because I so hate his movies, Joe Versus The Volcano and Moonstruck, but I think that latter one was due to Cher’s brutal performance. (Yes, I realize that she won the Oscar for it, but that year it was totally a popularity contest. Contrast her attempt at being a Brooklynite with one of the most brilliant portrayals of all time, Meryl Streep as a homeless woman in Ironweed. She was so real in that film that Mr. X had to leave the room where we were watching it, right in the middle—the heartbreak was too much for him. It’s haunted me ever since.) But, outside of Doubt, I had never seen any of his plays.
So this one was a wonderful surprise to me. First of all, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is very short—just an hour. I didn’t even realize the end was the end—it was over so abruptly. But I was grateful for that, because, from the action of the rest of the play, I was expecting a horrible end, which might have happened if the narrative had continued.
I wouldn’t call this two-character play a comedy, exactly, but don’t be afraid to laugh. I felt my fellow opening week-end audience members were a bit too timid in that area. I believe it’s billed as “a romance,” which it is, of sorts. It’s also partly an intense psychological drama. Let’s just say that there’s a lot going on in the entire scenario.
Right from the get-go, the set design and wardrobe set the scene perfectly. And it goes from there. I was actually engaged the entire time. And it helped that the two actors, Tanna Frederick and Robert Standley, (who reminded me so much of Springsteen,) are perfect for their roles. (But I wish that Tanna had not played with her hair so often during the show—she kept taking it down and putting it up and pulling on the sides; enough already. That bit of action was far from important for the character, and it seemed like the actress was doing it, not the character.)
Since I never tell you the story of a play, so that you can just watch it unfold for yourselves, there’s not much else to say about this one. There’s nothing to criticize, and it’s all good. (At the end, I said to my friend, “Well, that was short and sweet.” And a beat later, we both said at the same time, “It wasn’t sweet.”)
This rendition of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is entertaining: the story is interesting and different, the performances are spot-on, the direction (by Rocky actor, Carl Weathers) makes it all move, and the set is exactly perfect, especially for the small space. (This show is in the smaller theatre in the Edgemar Center. But that’s good because the noise of the creepy eatery next door doesn’t spill through the walls on that side of the edifice.) It’s a perfect summer’s day or evening’s entertainment, especially paired with the happening Santa Monica area, which I heavily suggest you explore before or after the show. (Or both!)
And I really want to give a big shout-out to the sweet young blonde British girl who greets everyone as we pick-up our tickets. She’s consistently upbeat, and totally helpful. Personnel like that always makes any experience so much more pleasant.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea running through September 10, 2017
Edgemar Center for the Arts 2437 Main St. Santa Monica 310-392-7327 www.edgemarcenter.org