edited by Stuart Laing
Duck Song is a comic and half-surreal deconstruction, about collective and profound loss of meaning.
In a comfortable middle-class house in London, sixty-year-old Herbert is throwing walnuts at the cuckoo clock. His seventy-one-year-old brother Maurice is asleep, which is his usual pastime. Herbert was a safe-breaker, Maurice a successful artist. Herbert’s daughter Jane, a psychiatrist, and her unemployed boyfriend Eddie are living with them. Jane’s estranged mother and a native American, Swift Arrow (or Lee), are on their way. And one of Herbert’s old criminal associates is breaking in, looking for his cut.
The mood of crisis and dissolution is suggestive of a society in decline. Then the play flashes into the absurd in the second act, becoming fragmented and bizarre, an unsolvable, uncontrollable puzzle.
Duck Song was first presented in 1974 by the Royal Shakespeare Company.