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The Ducks
Published on Saturday, 13 August 2011

3 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
3-29 Aug, 3:25pm-4:25pm
Reviewed by Eve Nicol

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

Produced in conjunction with three different young people's charities, The Ducks sets itself up as a piece of theatre in response to rising levels of youth unemployment in the UK.  The production's intentions are well-meaning, but the result is a somewhat patchy piece that doesn't forcefully foreground its subject matter.

The relationship between the two characters, K and R – and their uncertain, waddling steps towards friendship – principally carries the drama. They define themselves more through their responsibilities to other people than their jobs, and it’s the death of a parent that proves the tipping point for one of the characters, not his sudden unemployment.

The script is solid but understated, and could afford to be more bold. The play works best when the frustrations of the characters boil over, breaking the extended periods of shuffling unease that mark most of the play.

Frequent changes of time and place become muddled in the simple black box setting. Short scenes accompanied by dislocated sound effects led to confused whispers from the audience, as companions consulted to figure out where we were now. Two rather unassuming crates form the scenery, but there are a few nice touches played out with these, most notably when they are combined to form a DJ booth complete with pulsing club lights.

It appears that the production is banking on the strength of the script to carry the show, but unfortunately falls short. All the same, there are moments of unexpected lyricism, which suggest there may be more to The Ducks than this stripped-back production brings out.

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