by Lynn on December 14, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

The following two reviews were broadcast on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. CIUT FRIDAY MORNING, 89.5 FM. DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA at the Brockton Collective Studio 442a Dufferin St. North of Queen, and WEATHER THE WEATHER or how we make it home together. at the Evergreen Brick Works at 550 Bayview Ave.

The guest host was Phil Taylor.


Good Friday morning. It’s theatre fix time with Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer.  Hi Lynn


Hi Phil


What do you have for us today?


Two show produced by feisty companies. First Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, a love story between two lonely misfits. It’s by John Patrick Shanley who knows about lonely misfits. And it’s produced by the brand new theatre company called Baro Theatre Company.

Then we have Weather the Weather written by Haley McGee and produced by Theatre Columbus. It’s about a brother and a sister who have been displaced by a storm and just want to get home. But what does home mean? We find out. It plays OUTDOORS at the Evergreen Brick Works on Bayview Ave.


Before we get to the challenge of doing theatre outdoors, tell us about Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.


Written by the prolific American playwright, John Patrick Shanley. Young companies love doing his plays—I reviewed a terrific production of Savage in Limbo a few months ago by another new company.

That was his third play. Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is Shanley’s second play, written in 1983.

We are in familiar Shanley territory; a deserted bar in the Bronx. A woman sits along at the bar, nursing a beer. She is Roberta. An angry hulk of a man lumbers in, agitated. He is Danny. He sits by himself with a pitcher of beer.

Roberta starts a conversation with him. He’s sullen, gives one word answers and is not interested in talking. He will pick a fight with anyone if he thinks they are looking at him funny. Roberta persists in chatting him up.

She has her own issues. She’s a single mother who got pregnant at 18 and whose father made her get married. Now she’s divorced with a son who is now 13 and difficult. She lives with her parents who take care of the boy. She’s done terrible things and tells him one of them. She’s feisty, at times belligerent, and coy.  By now she’s at his table and he’s talking. Roberta takes Danny home, up the back way to her bedroom where her parents won’t see her or him. The unlikeliest thing happens with this most unlikely of couples—tenderness, romance in a way, and love.


Why do you say this is familiar Shanley territory?


No one knows this misfit terrain, a Bronx bar and marginalized people, like Shanley. He’s from the Bronx. He’s tough—expelled from kindergarten. He writes about the lower level of society.  He knows about people so pent up with angry they will explode if they don’t let it out. In the case of Danny that means punching out someone  until they are a bloody mess. In the case of Roberta she takes Danny home for a one-night-stand and that would be it. But Danny has other ideas.

In Shanley’s world there are no neat, simple endings. They are rough, hard won, fragile and true. Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is a roller coater ride of emotions for Roberta and Danny. When you think it will end well Shanley puts a wrench in the proceedings. When you think things are turning bad, he throws another curve.

He’s a terrific writer who can look into the dark, sad heart of the walking wounded and make us care deeply for them.


And it’s a new theatre company that’s producing it. Now that’s brave.


Brave indeed. Stepping up to the plate to do this play proud is the brand new Baro Theatre Company headed by Brooke Morgan who also plays Roberta. Mark Wiebe plays Danny and Aaron Willis directs.

Willis has a sure, confident director’s hand and guides the production with sensitivity, intense physicality when it calls for it, and an overall grace that gently takes the audience into this world, grips them, and doesn’t let them go until the very last clap of applause.

For the first part of the play audience faces the bar. They are in simple folding chairs. When Roberta and Danny are in her bedroom, the audience just turns their chairs around to face the bed.

As Roberta, Brooke Morgan is wily, coy, seductive, tenacious, tender, insecure, and all manner of emotions that keep her stuck in her own wheel-spinning world.

As Danny, Mark Wiebe seems to have a constant scowl and clenched fists, ready to punch out anyone who insults him or who he imagines insults him. Everything about him hurts. He hates to be touched. And yet these two lost souls find each other and won’t let the other go when one wants to leave.

The world changes for them subtly, gradually and with nuance. For such an in-your-face writer, Shanley is just as accomplished when being tender, gentle and open-hearted. Baro Theatre Company is a new fearless theatre company to watch. Seeing their dandy production of Danny in the Deep Blue Sea before it closes Dec. 15 is a great way to start.

And it plays at a new space as well, the Brockton Collective Studio on Dufferin. Every thing about this production, the new company and new space is a wonderful surprise and just makes me happy.


And now for something completely different. A play outside?


A play outside. Theatre Columbus is following up on their hugely successful outdoor production last year of The Story, about the nativity story, with another play Weather the Weather or how we make it home together.

Playwright, Haley McGee uses a Swedish folk tale as her basis for her wonderful play. What is home?  Is it where we live?  Where we wander to and land? Is it in the mind? These are some of the questions playwright Haley McGee is exploring in this enchanting, beautifully executed production.

A brother and sister are displaced from their home by a terrible storm brought on by an evil troll who controls the weather. In the process the brother is hit by lightening and is illuminated with crackling regularity.

Initially they try and find their way home—the sister has a map and a compass and a plan.  But after a while the brother is just weary and wants to stay there and make a new home.  They part, angrily, each going his/her separate ways, meeting all manner of adventure and mishap.

Because the brother is frequently illuminated, he is captured by the Troll who craves light.  She-yes the troll is a she—also has a more than passing acquaintance with Yiddishisms.

The sister in the meantime gives up her map to two troll like creatures in exchange for information on her brother. She also meets a prince who can do magic, is smitten with her and wants to make her chilli. And it all plays out in the park behind the Evergreen Brick Works on Bayview Ave.


How does that work?   


Jennifer Brewin has directed this with dazzling imagination, gentle wit and humour.  You gather in the main building to get a cup of hot chocolate if you want.

You follow a woman who lights the way with a glowing lampshade on the end of a long pole so that everybody can see it.  We gather around a circular area as our first stop to hear the beginning of the story.

Two white multi-levelled structures are on a large sheet on the ground. They represent the village of the brother and sister. A terrible storm comes up; characters grip the sheet and flip it in the air and the structures rise up and are suspended. Voila, the village destroyed and everyone displaced.

The brother who is truck by lightening has a glowing glove and parts of his costume. The Troll who craves light and sprinkles her dialogue with Yiddish words, has an elaborate head dress of two large antler-like horns that glow in the dark. We follow the lit lampshade from scene to scene as the brother and sister persevere to find home.

The cast of five are all charming: Kawa Ada plays the whimsical brother; Amy Lee his determined-to-follow- her-plan-sister; Lisa Karen Cox is the annoyed troll, Colin Doyle in various parts—our narrator and one of the minions–all done with style; and Courtenay Stevens, also plays various parts but mainly the prince who knows magic and how to make chilli. And at the end the audience is offered a wonderful surprise of welcome.

The vivid set and imaginative costumes are designed by Catherine Hahn. The wonderful lighting is by Glenn Davidson—you won’t look at light in the same way after this show. And I guess the piece de resistance is that we are also guided along our way by various musicians who play the trombone

The show lasts an hour. It is done outdoors so dress warmly. Accommodation can be made for people who do not walk well. They can sit in a chair along the way. There is a free shuttle bus from Broadview Station to the site. Everything about this production will make you smile.


Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. You can read Lynn’s blog at

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea plays at the Brockton Studio Collective at 442A Dufferin   Street until Dec. 15.

Weather the Weather plays at the Evergreen Brick Works at 550   Bayview Avenue until Dec. 30.

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1 September 14, 2017 at 6:51 am

Shelves up to 28′ Deep and Gondola up to eight ft tall.