DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, Blue Collar Theatre Company, at Cafe Voltaire.
It seems just a wee bit phony for a crew of fresh young thespians to grittily label themselves the Blue Collar Theatre Company. But then again, this phoniness goes hand in hand with the entertaining but disingenuous John Patrick Shanley play they've chosen to perform in Cafe Voltaire's basement. Like the actors in Blue Collar's production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Shanley rarely seems completely genuine in his Springsteeny approximation of salt-of-the-earth dialogue.
His rough-and-tumble ode to the lyrical passion that sparkles between Roberta and Danny, two zirconiums in the rough, has moments of grace and humor but too much high-gloss theatrical polish to be credible. His conversations seem imitative, as if learned from watching movies or reading books. The author is at his most effective when he eschews forced profanity and cheesy dialogue ("I got a badness in me") and explores his two characters' fantasy worlds in lovely make-believe sequences.
Apart from a few newcomer flaws, such as a tendency to create pauses between what should be overlapping lines, Blue Collar does a respectable job with this artificial but very watchable play. Katie Balash as the passionately guilt-ridden Roberta who falls for golden-hearted hooligan Danny is especially memorable in her first professional role. Unfortunately, director David Billotti is unable to overcome the problematic script. Together he and Shanley make the audience feel like eavesdroppers, overhearing but never involved in the conversation between two strangers in a bar.