Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Southwark Playhouse

Review: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Southwark Playhouse

Published in Time Out, 07.11.2011

This fragile two-hander – as delicate and devastating as anything on the London stage right now – glistens with hope.

Two lost souls – Danny and Roberta, a bruiser and a broad – get talking in a downtown bar. They are deadbeat barflies drawn to each other’s light in the absence of anything brighter. He greets the world with a clenched fist, she with open legs. Both are numb, hopeless and self-loathing, but they find a flicker of possibility in each other. Whether that will survive when moon gives way to morning is another matter.

John Patrick Shanley’s script is symphonic, in its lyrical language and structure, which is based on an Apache dance in which dancers represent pimp and prostitute. Set in pre-Giuliani New York, a city of dirt and danger, it nonetheless resonates with the present and by chipping open a chink of light, it draws the most fragile of tears.

Not that it’s remotely sentimental. You shouldn’t care for these characters, but, in Ché Walker’s intricate, heartfelt and sexy production, you just can’t do otherwise. Everything is earned, built piece by piece as the pair gain each other’s trust like horse whisperers.

Jonathan Chambers and Clare Latham are alluring and vulnerable. They let their defences drop like clothes peeled off in slow seduction. Surely one of the best Fringe shows of the year, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea shines like a black eye.

Photograph: Jane Hobson

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