note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA (at the BCA through this weekend only) introduces two powerful performers to the Boston theater scene. John Patrick Shanley’s touching pas de deux for two tortured loners is still as smart and shocking as it was twenty-five years ago. Zerega Avenue Productions is honoring the anniversary with a first rate production.
The couple meets, or rather, collides in a gloomy bar at the very end of the proverbial line. Danny licks his wounds, bruised and bandaged, fresh from a string of street brawls. Roberta cannot stomach another moment in her parents’ suffocating apartment. Tormented, angry and hurt, each thinks nothing will keep their demons at bay. Then Danny and Roberta begin their raw, desperate mating/hating dance.
Nick Ronan perfects the hulking, sulking physicality of a bruiser. Even his speech reflects the effect of too many blows. His Danny is unable to express himself without using his fists. Ronan gives a tour de force performance as the impenetrable “Beast” transformed by Roberta’s “Beauty.”
Kristen Berke gives a luminous performance as the damaged woman who has shut down her heart. When she finally accepts Danny’s offer of help, Berke transforms before our eyes. Director Stephen Yakutis gets lovely, nuanced performances from Ronan and Berke---so that even when they’re literally at each other’s throats, we know there is light ---and hope---at the end of the tunnel.