Duck Duck Goose: An uncomfortable, insightful portrayal of sexual violence’s social impact

Dublin Theatre Festival: In Caitríona Daly’s play, the protagonist becomes deeply entangled in a rape allegation

DUCK DUCK GOOSE

Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire
★★★★☆
Caitríona Daly's Duck Duck Goose is a nuanced and insightful look at the social impact of sexual violence. The play's protagonist, Chris Quinn (Aidan Moriarty), becomes deeply entangled in a rape allegation after his best friend, Davey (Liam Heslin), is accused of the attack.

This is not a typical representation of the aftermath of sexual violence. Daly deftly demonstrates the concept of social complicity throughout this production, allowing the audience to peer behind the mirror at those caught in the centre of these events.

What is most compelling here is Daly’s reliance on the audience to recognise the subtle violences perpetrated through the small moments of this play. The villains of this piece are complex, often unseen and occasionally sympathetic. The play does not rely on big emotive moments; instead it demonstrates the cruel mundanity involved in seeking justice in the aftermath of sexual violence.

We already know what happened. Instead, Chris's memories illuminate the reality of those decisive moments when the choices we make about what, or who, to believe can change the course of our lives

Paul Keogan’s set, which consists of a circular stage surrounded by screens, invites us into the mind of the play’s protagonist. Throughout Fishamble’s production we see Chris studiously assemble and disassemble his memories of these events and their aftermath. Carl Kennedy’s score imposes additional structure on the memories, threading them together.

READ MORE

This is an overthrowing of the usual he-said-she-said trope, as our protagonist is neither accuser nor accused. Ascertaining the “truth” behind the accusations is not the point of this play. We already know what happened. Instead, Chris’s memories illuminate the reality of those decisive moments when the choices we make about what, or who, to believe can change the course of our lives.

Jim Culleton’s direction occasionally threatens to obstruct the subtlety of Daly’s writing, and could at times afford a lighter touch. Moriarty is a compelling though unreliable narrator. The complex tension that he creates grounds the entire production.

Caitríona Ennis presents a sensitive yet imposing counterpoint to Chris’s memories as she embodies a range of characters, including that of Jane (the accuser). The remaining ensemble (John Doran, Naoise Dunbar and Roseanna Purcell) sustain this relentless pressure, driving the action towards its conclusion.

Every moment of this play is uncomfortable. Daly demonstrates how lives, memories and experiences can become weaponised in the pursuit of an implied but unreliable justice. This is a provoking, timely and challenging production.

Duck Duck Goose, which ran at the Pavilion as part of Dublin Theatre Festival, is at Draíocht, Blanchardstown, from Thursday, October 7th, to Saturday, October 9th. It will also visit the Everyman, Cork; Watergate, Kilkenny; Lyric, Belfast; and Belltable, Limerick