At Siteworks in Brunswick an intimate audience take their seats on bar stools to witness two deeply troubled characters meet in a New York bar, as their worlds inadvertently collide. Both battling their own demons, Danny (Charlie Cousins) and Roberta (Laura Maitland) struggle to keep each other at a safe distance as the dark secrets of their pasts are slowly revealed. The character’s relationship begins to build on the basis that they’re both, by their own admission ‘crazy’. At a point in their lives where they’re both feeling completely lost, they strike up a conversation and begin to tell each other as complete strangers in a bar; things about their lives that they’ve never told anyone (a concept I’m sure most of us can relate to). The characters share a sense of deep self loathing that it seems only the other one understands as they begin to open up to each other in a way that they never have before. They embark on what will prove to be an emotional rollercoaster of an evening by sharing intimate parts of their lives with each other; their relationships with their parents, lost love, childhood stories, murder and incest, all of which form the basis for the beginning of a volatile relationship. Having been judged by the world for most of their lives Danny and Roberta begin to reluctantly break through each other’s armour.
Although the performance space only has enough room for a small audience, aesthetics such as set design, costume and lighting have certainly not been over looked and support the brutally real script by John Patrick Shanley brilliantly. The space has definitely been used to it’s full potential to accommodate a detailed set design as the audience feel as though they could be sat on the opposite side of the bar. Watching as these two vulnerable characters battle to maintain their defences and keep one another at bay.
Both Charlie Cousins and Laura Maitland give strong performances throughout and have clearly worked to build a believable relationship between their two characters. There was a palpable chemistry between the two which facilitated unexpected moments of dark humour within the script. They both did extremely well in navigating such a small space and conveying this hard hitting script in a way that was powerful, yet not overwhelming. However at points I did feel as though some of their changes in voice and movement were actioned with more of a motive to keep the audience interested than what would seem to have come naturally to the character at that moment. Although I enjoyed the intimacy of the small set and how well the venue complimented it; I did feel that the performers were strong enough to command a much bigger space and would be interested to see how this piece would do in a conventional theatre setting.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is brilliantly written in a way that will make you both loose faith in humanity and restore it all at the same time. The turbulent relationship which forms between these two characters during a night of confessions, violence, forgiveness and the sharing of dreams leaves the audience feeling as though there is hope for all of us when it comes to finding love. Two very solid performers, an unusual setting and a veristic script make for an evening of theatre that you don’t want to miss out on!