Can we define ourselves by one event?

By Andrew Andrews

Duck (Michael Sean Cirelli) quacks at Abbie (Kellye Rowland) on a park bench in the IRT 3B Development Series production of Tom Block’s Duck. Original photo by Steven Pisano.

A CIA statistician suffers a mental breakdown after learning that his decision to round a probability up instead of down results in the assassination of a man who might have been a terrorist sympathizer, or just a Good Samaritan who made a few bad decisions. The resulting stress causes the man—codenamed Duck—to communicate with others mostly by quacking at them.

Duck’s brother, also a CIA operative codenamed Crumb, goes AWOL over the same traumatic event, choosing a life of homelessness to escape the system.

Through flashbacks, we also discover that Duck served as a witness to his father’s assisted suicide during a visit to Rotterdam.

My partner enjoyed this performance a bit more than I did, finding the subplot about Duck’s father intriguing.

For me, the story spent too much time in the head of the main character. I'm not sure if it was the directing or the script itself, but the action just wasn't compelling enough to hold my interest.

The casting didn't seem right, either, and I always find it confusing when a single actor blatently plays more than one role in the same production. In at least one case this was obviously intentional, as even Duck himself got confused when one character suddenly became another, as if in a dream.

This story doesn't just make the point that US policy against potential terrorists is overzealous and unfair; it beat the notion into my brain until I wanted to scream, “enough, already, I get your point!”

If you're looking for a play that makes a similar statement right now but with a more engaging delivery, I recommend you check out The Hope Hypothesis instead.


Andrew Andrews attended Duck at IRT Theater in Manhattan on Monday, October 28, 2019 @ 8:00pm to write this review.