Danti-Dan, presented by the Senior Acting Company, is a daring story about the youth, the loss of innocence, and sexual awakening.
The cast of Danti-Dan tells you why you should see it:
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Danti-Dan takes place in small town Cork, Ireland, and focuses on a group of teenagers during the summer, including the title character, Danti-Dan, who wants to move to America and become a real cowboy. Dan may be fourteen but mentally he is only eight, and he is manipulated by Cactus, a bored teen girl, to get whatever she wants. The play mainly centers on the teens and their sexual discovery and curiosity.
Danti-Dan is a little slow at the beginning. From the get go, it’s clear that they play is written in an Irish vernacular. But the actors don’t talk in an Irish accent, maybe because no accent is better than a bad one. But the clash of the words and accents takes some getting used to. Thankfully, one thing Danti Dan has going for it is a good script. The conflict ramps up organically and builds to a great climax and it’s here that Danti-Dan is at its best. The play has great lines, including the quip about how “If you lost your virginity, somebody would pick it up and bring it home to your mother”. Danti-Dan was a bit slow to begin with, but by the time it’s over, it just may win you over. It earns itself a three.
For the Senior Acting Company (a program offered by the OSSD), Danti-Dan follows last year’s wonderful Moonfleece – which was in my top five from 2011 Fringe. While Danti-Dan won’t make my top five this year, it’s still a very strong offering from these young and largely talented actors. It’s a compelling play about sexual awakening and even while written to be performed by this age group, it’s a challenging script for young actors. There were definitely moments where you could tell the actors were Acting, that is delivering their lines while not really getting beneath the surface of things, but on the whole there’s a lot of talent in the young group. Ainsley Shannon in particular stands way out above the rest as the deviant and trouble-making Cactus around whom the events of the play kind of revolve. She has amazing talent and brought incredible life to Danti-Dan.
For me, two areas fell a bit short. As Kurt pointed out, the heavy Irish dialogue and lingo, especially during the open where you’re still trying to immerse yourself into the play, came off false. This was the small complaint I had about Moonfleece last year as well, and it was even bigger here. I don’t know if it’s so much the accent as it is not growing up with the intent behind the words. The other false beat was a butt grab and boob grab written into the script but obvious misses in the blocking. While, yes, the actors are young, these actions were in the script that they as a group chose, which they shouldn’t have done if they were going to hold back.
Back to the positive; as Danti-Dan builds to it’s climax, all these problems go away. The play has a very action-packed and heavy ending and you’ll be on the edge of your seat as everything comes to a head. I’m a high three on this one.
– by Allan Mackey
Photo for this article taken by Allan Mackey.