Duck Duck Goose

Theatre Works

THAT Production Company

Set in Galway, Ireland between May 2016 and March 2019, Duck Duck Goose explores sexual assault and its impact. I refer to the effect on the accuser and the accused, along with friends and family. Jane Scully (Rachel Nutchey) meets Chris Quinn (Mitchell Holland) in the aftermath of a house party, where Chris got wasted. Jane alleges she was raped by Chris’ best mate Davey (Matt Domingo).

Photos by Darren Gill

She claims that happened after Davey took a photo of her with one of her nipples exposed at a karaoke bar and then shared it around the boys’ WhatsApp group. At the same time, another member of that group, the belligerent Andy (Ilai Swindells), exposed himself. Davey denies raping Jane, but nevertheless prevails upon Chris – who sticks up for his mates – to delete the chat group from his phone.

Chris is about to be enveloped by a social media storm. Jane reports the sexual assault to the police and begins targeting and picketing Chris’ family’s paint business, adversely affecting patronage. Chris inflames the situation when he agrees to be interviewed on radio by an old school colleague, Leo (also Ilai Swindells). Leo seizes the opportunity, causing Chris to lose his temper. And that is not the only time the pressure gets to Chris. It happens again on a first date with Marie (Jeanda St James).

Meanwhile, relations between Chris and his sister Sarah (Emily Carr) are tense and trust between Chris, Davey and Andy is in short supply. Dublin playwright Catriona Daly has crafted a story full of moral ambiguity and psychological complexity. Love and loyalty are tested as the issue of consent is at play, with new layers of just what went down constantly introduced by Daly. As a result, Chris struggles with trying to “do the right thing”.

The performances are universally strong, as we – the audience – are pulled one way and then the other. Mitchell Holland gives Chris Quinn’s frayed mind a workout, while there is a smoothness and neediness about Matt Domingo’s portrayal of Davey. Ilai Swindells is a powder keg as Andy and Leo, and more laid back later as Alex in Chris’ new workplace.

Emily Carr is totally credible as Chris’ steadfast but troubled sister, Sarah. Rachel Nutchey has instant impact as Jane Scully and later as Orla, Sarah’s friend, with whom she has a fallout. As Marie, Jeanda St James, weaves a heartfelt and disturbing tale on a date with Chris. She also hits hard as Chris’ new work colleague Kate, when she raises more questions about Davey’s actions.

Production designer Mikailah Looker has done a fine job with the staging on a white, catwalk-like canvas, which features some basic household items down one end. Above the stage sits a thin, oblong, open canopy, onto which are projected the dates of events as they occur. The lighting and sound are other winners.

Not so the surtitles – a good idea, given the fast-paced delivery with Irish accents and lexicon – projected onto a black background, behind the action. Unfortunately, the typeface is small, not bright enough, often hard to see and jumbled … in fact, altogether a mess. For an otherwise slick production, this is a major letdown.

Photo by Alex First

That aside though, Duck Duck Goose, directed by Timothy Wynn, makes for powerful and affecting theatre, with emotional resonance. Ninety minutes without interval, it is playing at Theatre Works until 13th April, 2024.

Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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