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Danny and the Deep Blue Sea 

Just two characters and a simple set, but plenty of drinking, strangling, and screwing

Wednesday, May 3 2006
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Pulitzer prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley dedicated this play, his first, to "everyone in the Bronx who punched me or kissed me, and to everyone whom I punched or kissed." Onstage there are only two characters and a simple set (two tables, a pitcher of beer, and some pretzels), but there's plenty of drinking, strangling, and screwing. That's probably why Danny has been a perennial favorite these last 20 years for young, hungry actors with angsty passion and no budget. In this DIY production, Sara Gozalo and Aidan O'Shea admirably serve as producers, scenery movers, and actors — playing two dysfunctional and lonely nutters who meet in the dark corner of a New York dive bar. They talk a mile a minute, trying to fill up the big empty, while draining the pitcher of beer and loudly confessing disturbing secrets — and then they start choking each other, leaving us to wonder, "Where the hell is the bartender?" It's a slow warm-up to figure out the realities in which these characters live. But once they get to the bedroom, the actors — especially O'Shea, creating a performance somewhere between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Willem Dafoe — break out of the cliches and settle into an honest naturalism, bringing believability to Shanley's sometimes bizarro dialogue (such as this gem: "Your mouth is like a flower and your nose is saying hello").

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Nathaniel Eaton

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