Directed by Courtney Larkin this production of THE DEEP BLUE SEA is exactly what fringe theatre should aspire to be. Larkin directs her actors with precision, taking care of small details, honouring the text and the story but at the same time leaving time and space for creativity and invention whilst allowing the play to slowly unravel at its own pace. If Larkin continues to put so much emphasis on relevance and the importance of true human connection on stage, she is no doubt going to become one of the most prominent young directors within the fringe scene.
Gareth O’Connor and Megan Llyoyd-Jones play the roles of Danny and Roberta and the perfect casting does not go amiss here. O’Connor’s portrayal of repressed masculinity is at times painful to watch and whilst the character of Danny could easily feel out of date in the 21st century London where men are more and more encouraged to talk about their feelings, Larkin’s directions concentrate on the contradictions within Danny’s behaviour, thus making it relevant and poignant to modern audiences. Megan Lloyd-Jones as Roberta creates a character that could easily walk straight out of a Martin Scorsese movie and her portrayal of a damaged and complex young mother is both beautiful and poignant. Perhaps it is due to Lloyd-Jones’ mesmerising performance that half way through the production I started cursing John Patrick Shanley for not naming this piece ROBERTA AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA.
Whilst Larkin’s directions focus on creating a powerful and naturalistic piece that explores very distinct cultural aspects of living in New York, including referring to Italian families and religious prejudice, the director also introduces another language which supports the narrative of the piece: physical theatre. All of the scenes are intertwined with movement sequences that explore the inner states of Danny and Roberta. If anything this only adds another layer of creativity to the piece and explores the sexual relationship between the two characters even further. From naturalism to heightened surrealism Larkin dives deep into Shanley’s world without any self-doubt or indulgence. DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is a production worth seeing, especially for those who are tired of a fringe scene staging uninventive and safe work.