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Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

Tuesday, 31 August, 2010

Love in the Bronx

London – Phoenix Artist Club – 27-31 July, 10-21 August (excluding 15 and 20)

Two small round wooden tables, surrounded by four wooden chairs, keep each other company on the small stage.  Roberta (Amy Tez) strolls in wearing cream high heels, denim hot pants with a leopard print belt and a chequered blouse with the sleeves rolled up and few buttons done up.  She sits down and flirts with the room and drinks beer from a bottle.

Danny (Andy Jones) then bounds in wearing black jeans, beige suede shoes, a white vest top and a white striped top, kept open.  He has blood all over his face and hands, as if he has just been in a fight, and has a large black eye.  He gets a jug of beer.  He lights a cigarette and puts a piece of material in the beer and cleans his cut hand with it.  The perfect scene has been set.  The intrigue is firmly placed and the anticipation is brimming, all this without any dialogue yet being exchanged.  What follows is an heart-warming, tragic, beautiful and bittersweet tale of love.

Two strangers looking for love, a connection and a missing piece of their lives, find each other.  They bend, twist and struggle their way through opening up their hearts and discovering themselves before they can open up and discover each other.  It is an emotional story.  They reveal difficult past and present times.  They explore a hurried love like children at play.

Roberta and Danny live in the Bronx.  They are used to fighting for everything and standing on their own two feet.  As strong willed as each other, it is hard to let their respective guards down to soften and become a bold and beautiful body as one.  Danny solves everything with his fists but hides a kind heart that needs to be nurtured.  Roberta is a loving mum who projects the image of strength and bravado to all.  However, inside she is as kind and sweet as Danny and also needs nurturing.  They are perfect for each other.

Andy Jones is excellent as Danny.  He maintains a perfect Bronx accent throughout, and is reminiscent of Al Pacino in Taxi Driver.  Andy Jones plays Danny through a series of emotions including being paranoid, loving, and angry.  Danny’s journey unfolds superbly.  Andy Jones has his actions and facial expressions to match absolutely on point.  It is fascinating to watch.  He throws darting paranoid looks around the room, at Roberta and inwards to himself.  He puffs out his chest with confidence and at other times closes in on himself, wanting to be held.

He sits on the chair in an attractive manner, slouched over it, nonchalant yet also very aware of his allure.  He has his forearms exposed, hair tousled up and looks strong and fit.  Andy Jones is skilful on stage.  He acts out a panic attack, cries and fiddles with his hair then lights a cigarette to shrug the whole thing off.  An example of when Andy Jones captures the humour of a moment perfectly is when Roberta says to Danny “Touch me.  Put your hand on me nice and talk to me.”  Andy Jones has such an expression on his face, pauses and then slaps Amy Tez on the arm in a matey kind of way.  It is great.  Andy Jones gives Danny a nervous laugh that he brings out throughout the play at opportune moments.  It gives Danny that tender side.  It is quite cute.  Even the way he swears makes Danny the kind of man that you just want to look after and give him all the love he never had.

Andy Jones seems to know how to use each situation and prop to enhance the action and his character.  He sits in a chair and plays with a doll whilst telling the story of a wedding.  He plays with its hair, he has nervous twitches and plays with his ear, his face and holds his chest.  He crosses his feet over and closes into himself like he needs protecting and plays with his neck.  It is captivating viewing.

Amy Tez is excellent as Roberta and also maintains a perfect Bronx accent throughout.  She is flirtatious and sultry.  Amy Tez holds Danny’s eye well and constantly challenges him verbally or physically.  It is interesting to see how next she will do it, whether it is the way she sits near him or the way she stands and talks to him.  Amy Tez shows her humour when Roberta talks to Danny about the false moon they see and shows him her own moon and wiggles herself at him.  He howls in return as he is howling at the moon.  Such hilarity.

Amy Tez plays the flirt confidently.  She kneels on the bed in his shirt and tells her story with anguish.  She holds the tension in the arguments and holds the tension in the intimate moments.  Amy Tez carries herself in a fearless manner when necessary.  She crumples and cradles herself when there is nowhere aggressive to go to and she needs Danny to rescue her.  She is tender towards Danny and cares for him with kid gloves intuitively.  She also cares for him with boxing gloves at other times when he needs that too.

Both Andy Jones and Amy Tez play the sexual tension between their characters well.  It is easily believable.  They complement each other well as actors and as characters in love.  There is a moment where they both stand up and she slaps him.  Then, there is a skilful series of movements where he grabs her round the neck and pins her up on the wall with his hands and his body.  It has been done carefully and effectively.  It could obviously be quite dangerous if not done properly.

John Patrick Shanley has written a well-rounded piece of work.  The interactions between Danny and Roberta are humorous and touching and the story flows well.  The journey of the couple has a good pace.  There is a funny line where Roberta makes a comment to Danny about him not being so scary: “I seen worse than you crawling round my sink!”  There is another part where Danny howls at Roberta’s moon.  There is a nice mix of humour and serious introspection.  There is one horrible line however where there is an ignorant mention of a phrase used referring to people from another country.  If it were not for this, the play would be faultless.

Dominic Cazenove’s direction is very capable.  Danny and Roberta interact well and move around their world in a unique way. Roberta has a feminine fluid movement.   She sexualises everything, as that is how she can relate to the world.  Danny has a mixture between arrogant and humble.  He has a confident countenance and also an uncertain fidgeting and self-conscious manner.  His world is a constant battle and he is always alert.

The music and lighting by Rock N Roll Theatre complements the whole play.  The lighting is subtle when it needs to be and lights the actors and the set appropriately.   There are some familiar songs such as ‘I Put A Spell On You’ sung by Nina Simone, which sets the scene for the second half.

The play makes you hope for love and smile with the joy of all the good in the world.  You may want to run out and find your own love story straight after if you don not already have one.  The acting is excellent, the direction is excellent, and the play is nearly as good.  If you go and see anything in the future, go and see this first.

Cast Credits:  Andy Jones – Danny.  Amy Tez – Roberta.

Company Credits:  Writer – John Patrick Shanley.  Director – Dominic Cazenove.  Executive Producer – Amy Tez.  Producer – Kay Bridgeman.  Sound Designer – Rock N Roll Theatre.  Lighting Designer – Rock N Roll Theatre.  Art Work – Bradley Kemp.

© Chantal Pierre-Packer 2010

reviewed Monday 16 August

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