DANNY -- KING OF THE BASEMENT by David S. Craig, directed by Richard Greenblatt, with Jennifer Dean, Ron Gabriel, Gil Garratt and Yanna McIntosh. Presented by Roseneath Theatre and Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in the Studio (165 Front East). Runs to November 25, Sunday 11:30 am and 2:30 pm (except November 18 at 3 pm). $14. 416-862-2222.
no one cultivates more delight-ful theatrical blooms for young viewers than Roseneath Theatre. Its admirable blend of entertainment and issue-based drama powers David S. Craig's Danny -- King Of The Basement, in which a streetwise 10-year-old helps resolve others' problems and finally gets help coming to terms with his own.After moving eight times in two years, Danny (Gil Garratt) and his mother (Jennifer Dean) now live in a below-ground apartment rented to them by Penelope's well-to-do mother. Penelope (Yanna McIntosh) and her hockey-playing neighbour Angelo (Ron Gabriel) are at war but united in having problems with their parents. Penelope's are separated and won't talk to each other, and Angelo's jobless father has morphed into a roaring dinosaur.
Craig's skill as a playwright enables us to care immediately for all the figures, though he doesn't ignore their prickly edges. The winning cast, directed by Richard Greenblatt, is led by the engaging Garratt, who adds a sad, resigned under-layer to the game-playing, fantasizing Danny, forced to provide parenting to his own mother.
The script has some small problems -- it covers a few too many topics, and Danny's secret problem could be hinted at earlier -- but it also avoids pat answers in dealing with difficulties big and small. Impressively blending contemporary realities and enduring emotional truths, Craig fashions Danny into a prince of a play.