- Chris O'Rourke
Dublin Theatre Festival 2021: Duck Duck Goose
Caitríona Ennis and Aidan Moriarty in Duck Duck Goose. Image Ste Murray
What would you do if the girl with your best friend at his party last night asks you for his number next morning? What would you do if she asks you for yours? What would you do if she told you he posted a compromising photo of her to a Whats App group you're not part of? What would you do if she later claimed he raped her? What would you do if that same best friend asks you to delete another Whats App group because certain comments could be misconstrued? Positing lots of complex scenarios, Caitríona Daly's latest play Duck Duck Goose addresses important issues around disclosure, consent and allegations of rape post #Metoo. Exploring how evil thrives when good people do nothing, or do the wrong thing, in a thought provoking production designed to unsettle. One that comes full circle but doesn't necessarily land where it thought it might.
While Daly excels at recreating the moral and psychological nightmare that surrounds a rape case, and the impact on accused and accuser, it's those who inhabit the middle ground she's more concerned with. Those who weren't in the room when it happened but still need to choose who to believe. Like the gormless Chris, too much a good guy to be a bad boy, too much a guilty bystander to be really good. His world destroyed for being seen as guilty of complicity, guilty by association, guilty by omission. Guilty, mostly, for not believing the victim. As language loops on itself, certain phrases get pushed to the forefront making Daly's intentions clear. Set against Paul Keogan's superb set and lighting. Grey archive boxes speaking to history and legality stacked like a coffin, moved and reshaped endlessly to create a plethora of spaces against a backdrop resembling a Stonehenge of phone screens.
Aidan Moriarty and John Doran in Duck Duck Goose. Image by Ste Murray
Feeling less like a series of scenes so much as a series of role played case studies, interrupted by some intentionally funny interludes that turn nasty fast, Daly's script is less an organic affair so much as a series of arguments with marks it wants to hit. Under Jim Culleton's sensitive direction performances get injected with life, elevating scenes from the argumentative to the lived and experiential. Caitríona Ennis's handling of a variety of roles, including that of the victim, being a clever move. Ennis's impressive versatility suggesting there but for the grace of God go I, ably assisted by Saileóg O’Halloran's costuming. Liam Heslin's understated Davey proves remarkably convincing as a man protesting his innocence, with Aidan Moriarty's Chris convincingly gormless. Naoise Dunbar's bad lad Andy is a scene stealing delight, as is John Doran's salaciously sensational DJ who appears to have walked in from a Ross O'Carroll-Kelly novel. Roseanna Purcell as Sarah, Chris's sister, grounds the whole affair, asking deeper and even more uncomfortable questions.
Duck Duck Goose might refer to a child's game, but Daly's issues are anything but child's play. Yet making some serious points, it doesn't always make its case. If what would you do is the core question, what you should do is less convincingly realised. What Duck Duck Goose does incredibly well is capture the complexity of believing or not believing when a disclosure or an allegation is made, especially the devastation that comes afterwards. If Daly's honesty is to be admired, it might come at a price. Overheard post show; "remind me, if I'm ever put in that situation, don't get involved." Not, I'm sure, the take away Daly was going for.
Duck Duck Goose by Caitríona Daly, directed by Jim Culleton and presented by Fishamble: The New Play Company tours as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2021 at the following venues:
Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire - 29th Sept - 3rd Oct
Draíocht, Blanchardstown - 7th - 9th Oct
The Everyman, Cork - 12th - 14th Oct
Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny - 16th Oct
Lyric Theatre, Belfast - 19th - 20th Oct
Belltable, Limerick - 23rd Oct
For more information visit Dublin Theatre Festival 2021 or listed venues.