Duck duck goose. A children’s game in which children sit in a circle as one walks around the perimeter saying “duck” while tapping each seated child on the head before choosing to say “goose,” instead. The goose must chase the picker around the circle, each vying for the one chair.
Named for a children’s game, Caitríona Daly’s play couldn’t be more serious. Who’s a goose and who’s a duck, in this case, who’s telling the truth and who’s lying, runs tandem to the grown-up phrase, “if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck.”
Chris – Aidan Moriarty
Davey (Liam Heslin) and Andy (Naoise Dunbar) are party animals. Davey’s best friend Chris (Aidan Moriarty) is ever present but manages not to get in the thick of things. He’s a nicer young man; naïve. One morning after, Chris encounters Jane (Caitriona Ennis) straggling out of a bedroom the worse for wear. She’s angry and upset, lumping Chris with his friends, referring not only to the preceding night, but to an embarrassing photo of her on a salacious WhatsApp site. Chris denies knowledge of either. She exits.
When Davey and Andy emerge, they repudiate Jane’s implication of sexual abuse and taking the photo. Both are, however, involved with SexMen (like XMen) where it’s been posted. (The WhatsApp exchange in question is spoken too quickly and scrolled on a screen so poorly lit, we lose it completely.) Chris believes his friend is telling the truth. In order to appease a nervous Davey, he deletes an innocent WhatsApp group with which he’s involved.
Jane goes to the police/guards. She is examned and has been abused. Accusation becomes public. Chris can’t escape association with Davey and Andy. His sister Sarah (Roseanna Purcell) convinces him to go on a talk show where he’s subject to a sensationalist attack by host/old schoolmate Leo (John Doran). Think tabloid journalism. Unexpectedly cornered, he calls Jane’s credibility into question in an unfortunate, derogatory outburst just as those who protest too much (and their lawyers) do every day. Lives fall apart. Court looms. Still, he continues to doggedly defend his friend. This affects every social interaction he has with women. People take sides. Things come to a head.
The Women – Caitriona Ennis
Dialogue is taut, incidents described with specificity and recognizable emotion. Playwright Caitriona Daley squeezes and releases with skill. Because the piece examines a small community of every day people, what occurs feels more immediate than those celebrity incidents about which we read.
Caitriona Ennis is mercurial, with a particularly stunning turn as internet date, Marie, who’s had her own related experience. The actress plays every woman but Chris’ sister, intermittently repeating a phrase word for word. It’s unclear whether this is a case of cutting casting cost or an indication that all women suffer misogynism and aggression, a sisterhood in sympathy with each other’s pain and impotence.
Aidan Moriarty’s Chris is loyally obtuse. We want to shake him. Naoise Dunbar (Andy) is a horribly familiar, self-entitled predator; John Doran a believable, smooth-talking shock jock.
I’ve been following Fishamble for years first in person, then online. Pretty much everything they do is compelling, well acted and well produced. Remember the name.
Photos by Ste Murray
First Irish presents Fishamble’s
Duck Duck Goose by Caitríona Daly
Directed by Jim Culleton.
With Aidan Moriarty, Caitriona Ennis, John Doran, Liam Heslin, Naoise Dunbar, and Roseanna Purcell.
First Irish 2022 in New York City January 9 to 31, hosting 20 live and virtual events: www.origintheatre.org