Sunday, May 10, 2009

"The Ducky" - May 2009

D C Jackson & Borderline Theatre Co have followed up their hugely successful 2008 show "The Wall" with "The Ducky". Set in the same Ayrshire locale and featuring three of the original characters, intellectual 'Bam' Rab McGuire is back from Cambridge, Michelle is home to visit her dying great gran, while Norma has never left and is receiving attention from Rab's brother Trevor and new local thug Cooney. But although "The Ducky" builds on the events of its predecessor it works perfectly well in its own right and no prior knowledge is required to find it hugely enjoyable.

Like "The Wall", events take place over a short period in the summer as outside influences take their toll on our young characters. Jackson retains a magnificent touch for producing one-liners, although in the early stages some of the comedy seems a little more forced this time round. But the heart and charm that made the original so affecting is undoubtedly present - the characters and the performances eliciting sincere "Ah's" from the audience at times. However, Jackson isn't content to give the audience an easy ride, and silences them with a marvelously effective piece of misdirection.

Sally Reid is in excellent form as Norma, making her significantly more than the caricature she could easily become. There's a real sense that the character has grown since we first met her, even if she's only a little wiser. Alan Tripney as Trevor and Jonathan Holt as Cooney do well with characters that are essentially two dimensional stereotypes - it's a pity they lack the depth Jackson has given the others. Hannah Donaldson gives a fine performance as Michelle, but it's Finn den Hertog who gives the outstanding performance of the piece in brilliantly managing to gel the twin aspects of the character.

Jackson's characters and their coming of age stories deserve to live on - both through further productions of "The Wall" & "The Ducky" and hopefully in future works. Given the opportunity, this group of young friends from Stewarton could become firmly embedded in Scottish theatrical culture.

The Ducky is on an extensive tour of Scotland until mid June.