Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is John Patrick Shanley’s second play. It has only two characters, Roberta (Juliet Landau) and Danny (Michael Williamson), both of whom are alienated from other humans, full of rage, and bordering on being psychotic. The story is simply how they overcome all the barriers that their separate personalities erect and ends, predictably, a love story.
Stories like this always make me uncomfortable. I am not sure I want these two characters together with anybody. This kind of play has always had some popular appeal, especially to actors who get to be low-down, disgusting, crazy, angry, and passionate. Luckily director John McNaughton has found two perfect actors for the roles. Michael Williamson, a dark and brooding presence, does a terrific job as the hostile Danny. He is a very handsome guy with muscles, so you can see how he has played Stanley Kowalski in the past. Despite the role he manages to find moments of character-driven humor in his performance.
The play really belongs to Roberta, played by the quirky and lovely Juliet Landau, who is the daughter of Martin Landau and the gorgeous Barbara Bain (and perhaps best known as Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Her father was present the night I saw this production, so I know we got a great performance. Her dad runs the Actors Studio so she has the kind of chops through birth and through training to take on this role. There wasn’t a false moment in her performance and it ranks as one of the best if not the best performance by a woman I have seen this year.
Her Dad seemed proud too.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is playing at the Crown City Theatre until Jan. 1, with an extension through January.