One Duck Down

Reviewed by Flossie Waite
A FacePlant Theatre production
At Vault Festival until 18th Feb 2018
For all the family

Billy has memorised the phone book. He has taught the local seagulls how to squawk God Save The Queen. In fact, he has passed each and every test his beloved, Cecilia Sourbottom, has set him – so why aren’t they together? There’s just one more task he must tick off, Cecilia promises, to prove his affections for her – 7000 rubber ducks have accidentally been dumped in the ocean, and she wants Billy to collect every single one. Fuelled by his misplaced adoration, Billy sets off on a quest that would make David Attenborough proud, though Cecilia seems motivated more by the great distance it will place between them than environmental activism… Inspired by real-life events (as dramatized on the nation’s favourite TV programme, Blue Planet II), One Duck Down is a charming and very funny pro-duck-tion.

As anyone who watches Blue Planet, or remembers Year 7 Geography, will know, ocean currents mean the ducks could be bobbing about or washing ashore pretty much anywhere (in fact, the real rubber ducks are still being found 25 years later!) We follow Billy (Owen Jenkins) as he travels to every corner of the earth, encountering all sorts of creatures on the way, from a rock star polar bear to a self-obsessed albatross to a long-sighted fish, all played by a versatile trio (Alice Bounce, Lydia Hourihan, Maxwell Tyler) who seem to be having so much fun on stage, their energy is infectious.

Talking of infectious – there’s a dose of smut (including more than one joke about catching crabs), as well as puns (Billy is surrounded by lettuce as he sails past ‘icebergs’ in the Arctic) and pop culture references. While One Duck Down feels like a rollicking pantomime in the best way, this doesn’t detract from the environmental message which is carefully woven into the script and clearly impacted the design: the set and props are made entirely from recycled materials. With catchy tunes, excellent puppets and – thanks to the clowning skills of the cast – some hilarious faces, you’d be quackers to miss it.

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