Book 55 – Duck Variations

Book – Duck Variations
Author – David Mamet
Year – 1978
Genre – Play
Pages – 43
Lent to me by Alex Campbell

When I was at university, I had to read a section of a book called True and False by David Mamet, which is the playwright’s book on how to be a better performer.  Despite only having to read a few pages of it, I found it so interesting that I read the whole thing there and then.  This is especially strange, as I pretty much managed to go my whole degree without reading anything that I was supposed to.  Although I can remember little of it now (a possible future Book Challenge read perhaps) I remember it particularly striking a chord with me as a book by a man who thought the same as me about theatre.

So it was interesting when Alex lent me this book of plays by Mamet, and asked me to read the first two.  I had not read any of Mamet’s plays, so when I saw pretty much straight away, that the first play is very similar in style to that of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot – my favourite play – I was pretty excited.  It is nowhere near as polished a piece of absurdist drama as Godot unfortunately, but was quite an interesting read nonetheless.

The premise of the plot, is that two men are sat on a park bench talking about ducks.  That is the total sum of what happens.  However, I am sure there is more to it in terms of depth (although that may not be the case, as that is the kind of thing that this type of drama can fool you into believing).  For what it’s worth, I think that the two men are trying to say something to each other about the world, and what kind of a place it is, but through not having the right words to explain themselves, and through a certain awkwardness, they keep ending up talking about ducks instead.  Take what you will from it, and I am sure that a dozen different readers could come up with a dozen different ideas – all of which may be different to what Mamet intended – but that is my thoughts.

It is interesting as a play goes, and I think I’d quite like to see it performed on stage, but not the greatest play I have ever read, nor the greatest of even its kind.  But it took me about half an hour to get through, so can’t hurt for a bit of a mind teaser if you like that sort of thing.


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