One reader noted: "There is a Vonnegut-like aspect to the play, perhaps combined with Joseph Heller. It's serious, satirical, and nihilistic all at the same time."
Duck (Billy) has reached the end of his rope and only communicates by quacking. After a career in the CIA, which has led to a downward emotional spiral, he finds himself on a park bench, which happens to be the home of his older brother Crumb (John), who was also once a CIA operative and Duck's boss. Crumb lost faith in the system, leaving his younger brother to kill for reasons of state while he, Crumb, dropped out of society.
In the opening scene, Abbie, who has undergone a personal travail of her own, enters and tries to talk to Duck, who only quacks. However, he will talk to his brother. Abbie is very taken with the injured Duck (though not at all with his acerbic brother) and tries to befriend him. Crumb tires of the game and drags Duck off the bench to take a voyage through Duck's past.
Duck sees the man he had killed in Damascus (probably innocent), watches his father (once an eminent neurobiologist, but now decimated with Alzheimer's disease) euthanized in Rotterdam and even explores his original psychic injuries, as a bullied elementary school student. His brother protected him from exterior threats in that long ago, though bullied him when they were alone together.
We also meet his wife, his journalist biographer (Duck has been awarded an Intelligence Star Award for his work in the Middle East) and see him in therapy.
We end where we began: with Duck, Crumb and Abbie in the play's "present." Duck never is able to speak directly with Abbie, but she feels strongly that she can save him from whatever internal war he is going through. They exit together, unable to communicate but somehow bound together.
The play was developed into a full-length piece with Director Brad Raimondo and then had a staged reading at the 14th Street Y Theater, NY (December 2013); Spooky Action Theatre, DC, directed by Kristy Simmons (September 2014): Wide Eyed Productions WINKS Series (May 2015), directed by Suzanne Karpinski and then read for Secret Theatre's (NY) New Voices Project, September 2015. It had its most recent reading as part of the International Human Rights Art Festival (Dixon Place, March 2017), under the direction of Katrin Hilbe.
Playwright: Tom Block
Director: Clare Shaffer
Assistant Director: Nerissa Hart
Lighting Designer: E-Hui Woo
Sound Designer: Drew Moberley
Stage Manager: Rebecca Talisman
Duck: Shaquille Stewart
Crumb: James Nelson
Abbie/Dr. Susan Friedman (Duck's Mother)/Tess: Jasmine Jones
Frates/Priest/Dr. Marvin Friedman (Duck's Father): Craig Houk
Dr. Weigert/Dutch Doctor of Euthanasia/Commanding Officer: Amanda Spellman
Highwood Theater (Ver)
914 Silver Spring Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
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