Updated: Oct 27, 2019
Swimming with slice upon slice of nutrient-lacking white bread, characters named “Meme” and of course...ducks! - this production by Thirty Five Square is a lighthearted, absurdist exploration of the influence that aspects of the internet have on the human condition.
Staged in the Old 505 Theatre as part of FreshWorks Femme, Duckpond appears to tell the story of Ingrid, a flight attendant and sole survivor of a plane that has crashed into the dystopian world known as The Duckpond. She quickly meets Duck, a naive but optimistic little duck with a potent predisposition for white bread. And just like that, we immediately think we are set up for a buddy comedy about bread and ducks however, it soon becomes apparent that this production is trying to convey a much deeper message.
It seems that Tabitha Woo has penned a piece that aims to highlight the effects of “all things internet” and the human response to it. Akin to a skit show, the main action between Ingrid and Duck is interspersed with the entrance of personified “Memes” that physicalize the intangible elements of our everyday, cloud-based lives. The hour long production, at times, tended to go off on tangents that tested our attention spans and had us struggling to follow what was happening and it felt like the core message was blurred. Luckily, the fun and quirky qualities overshadowed this and kept us entertained for the duration.
Rizcel Gagawanan had superb comic timing as Duck. She landed every line with the perfect amount of comic tone and the audience was simply charmed by her. The dynamic contrast between Duck and Ingrid (Melissa Hume) was strong and worked well but both could have benefitted from a stronger commitment to their choices both physically and emotionally.
Samantha Lambert, one of the two Memes, consistently demonstrated active listening and a constant commitment, particularly vocally, and thus drew our attention whenever she was present. Particularly memorable was her Martha Stewart-esque lesson on baking the perfect loaf of bread.
This new work is a bright, feel-good story with endearing characters but it feels like the mark was just missed in terms of using poignant substance to underpin the primary narrative. Nevertheless, the sense of joy in watching this production was multitudinous and the one thing above all that can’t be disputed was the smiles on the faces of this opening night audience.
Throughout the show, I was itching to feel a greater depth and sentimentality from the story particularly during segments where I was trying to focus on what was going on, and what I was supposed to be paying attention to - or maybe that was the point? Despite this, Duckpond left me feeling light and content and I thoroughly enjoyed relishing in the many moments of silliness! Quack, quack!
Venue Old 505 Theatre (Newtown), 22nd – 26th October 2019
Director Alison Bennett
Playwright Tabitha Woo
Cover Image by Clare Hawley
DISCLAIMER: This and all other reviews posted by A Millennial with an Opinion/JTA Official/Jessie Trompp are the honest personal opinions of a theatre-goer and are not reflective in any way of the opinions of others who have seen the production.