Review: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Old Red Lion

“I think I killed a guy last night”

After a well-received run at Theatre N16 last year, Courtney Larkin’s production of John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea has popped up again at the Old Red Lion, an ideal home for its striking intensity. Danny and Roberta are two lost souls, trapped in their own vicious cycles of despair but finding themselves propping up the same Bronx bar one night and possibly, just possibly, locating a chink of light on the horizon by the end of their encounter.

At first sight, there’s not much to the play, not much ‘happens’ per se, so Larkin’s direction wisely focuses on its emotional potency. Gareth O’Connor’s angry loner Danny and Megan Lloyd-Jones’ traumatised Roberta are both excellent as they each self-excoriate, wielding violence within and without, but increasingly finding a kind of kinship that allows them to establish the kind of connection and intimacy they’ve been missing for so long. Continue reading “Review: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Old Red Lion”

Review: Once, Phoenix

“Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice”

Unusually for a West End musical, Once gently pulses rather than powerhouses its way into the affections, beating very much to its own unique rhythm with a sublimely sensitive story of the power of music and the pain of untimely love. From the working bar on stage that welcomes the audience into the auditorium of the Phoenix with a makeshift ceilidh to the presence of quality names like Enda Walsh and John Tiffany, it is immediately clear that this is no ordinary film-to-stage transfer.

Augmented and adapted by Walsh, the book covers the brief but intense journey of a guy and a girl, named Guy and Girl, who connect strongly but find that what they can sing to each other, they cannot say once the music has stopped. He’s a busking vacuum cleaner repairman missing his girlfriend in New York, she’s an unhappily married Czech mother searching for purpose and when she spots his potential, starts up a project to get him to record a demo but their feelings soon threaten to pull them onto the cusp of new possibility.  Continue reading “Review: Once, Phoenix”