Danny and the Deep Blue Sea
Wilkerson Theatre (formerly The California Stage)1723 25th St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
There’s nothing like a damaged person to do some serious damage, whether that’s to the barroom or to one’s heart. But what if a pair of damaged people—seriously damaged, in that drink-too-much-hate-myself-and-have-sex-with-strangers way—decide they want something different?
That’s the question at the heart of John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, a play that finds Danny (Shane Edward Turner) and Roberta (Kara Ow) meeting in a dive bar, and letting things go from there.
Neither of them is hiding how wounded they are; both make a frequent refrain of the words, “I’m crazy.” But they’re not crazy, it quickly becomes apparent. They’re just at the end of a string of bad decisions that have left them hurt and lonely enough to do crazy things.
Turner and Ow have great chemistry, which is crucial to making this play work. They also do a fairly good job with their “Noo Yawk” working-class accents, and are to be commended for keeping their characters from seeming like just another pair of good kids in bad circumstances. Instead, Ow and Turner let flashes of vulnerability through, but make it clear just how dangerously unhappy these people are—they’re anti-social, but not outright sociopaths. They seesaw between despair and hope, played out with the necessary trace of cynicism and veneer of wistful longing, which makes Danny and Roberta frightening, but not completely unlikeable.
Directed by Brian Rife—who has earned rave reviews as an actor in both community and professional productions locally—Danny and the Deep Blue Sea also benefits from a very well-designed, functional set, courtesy of Ow, Rife, and Steven Adkins.
This dark drama is quite a departure from Uh, Yup Productions’ last show, The Love of Three Oranges, a commedia dell’arte play staged last December. Keep this troupe on your radar. They’re small but interesting.