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What International Critics Have Said About The Duck Variations

Duck pic smiling long

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“fresh and pungent…. This play has some of the sound and flavor of the best Second City skits …. Even the wildest statements are dryly understated…. the author never loses our attention or his sense of humor…. a welcome gust of laughter

— Mel Gussow, The New York Times

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gorgeously written, wonderfully observant”

 — Alan Rich, New York

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A brilliant little play

 — The Guardian [London]

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“… resembles an extended vaudeville sketch…. The Duck Variations is vintage Mamet, replete with shrewd eavesdropping and hilarious pseudophilosophy…. Mamet at his most poignant…. [a] cocky tour de force

 — Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Reader

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Duck Variations is, simply, wonderful: funny, warm, and philosophical.  This tiny play honors the noble attempt to think – however confusedly – about the mysteries of the universe.”

 — Toby Zinman, David Mamet Review

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sparkling comedy.… an entertaining and lovely little theatrical gem.”

 — Stephen Dunne, Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]

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“a sweet little amuse bouche of a play…. funny as hell …. characters that are as touching and human as any on stage.”

 — Jennifer Bubriski, edgeboston.com

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“…highly amusing…. The characters … are not merely alive, but likeable. … [One relishes] the sparkle of the dialogue”

 — Richard Coe, The Washington Post

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“There is a marvelous ring of truth in the meandering, speculative talk of these old men – the comic, obsessive talk of men who spend much of their time alone, nurturing and indulging their preposterous notions.  There is more here than just geriatric humor; there is also imagination and understanding, as these old parties grow impatient with each other, quarrel, make up, reveal their need for each other, and talk glorious nonsense with impassioned solemnity.  They never become ridiculous or pathetic; their dignity remains intact from beginning to end.  Mr. Mamet is a true and original writer, who cherishes words and, on the evidence at hand, cherishes character even more.

 — Edith Oliver, The New Yorker

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“gentle and reflective …. simple but smart

 — Les Spindle, Back Stage West

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“resonates with a harmonic richness much like that of musical variations …. consistently involving

 — Jules Becker, The Jewish Advocate

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“still-delightful…. Beckett crossed with a couple of Borscht Belt [philosophers] hilarious and profound

 — Carolyn Clay, The Phoenix (Boston)

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[a] nicely polished little gem

 — Mark Bretz, Ladue News

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“All that is original and good in Mamet is encapsulated in [The Duck Variations].”

 — John Simon, New York Magazine

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“laughable, touching, fast paced”

 — Karen Weinstein, CultureVulture.net

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“springy, humorous

 — Michael Billington, Guardian [London]

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 “[Emil and George] talk … about the habits of ducks and other subjects of which they know virtually nothing yet speculate about with endless comic invention.  What emerges is a vivid sense of their friendship, the fear of solitude, the inexorable toll of their expiring lives.”

 — T.E. Kalem, Time

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“Mamet’s interest is the disconnected thoughts and pretended knowledge of people who manage, in spite of all odds, to communicate with one another.  Up to a point.  But what’s the point, as [George] triumphantly enquires? Go see for yourself.  You’ll have a good time.

 — Douglas Watt, Daily News [New York]

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“This is the playwright at his prime, more daring and self-confident than the Mamet we’ve seen lately.… an intellectual vaudeville, Duck Variations is Mamet’s apprenticeship by way of Beckett and Albee. … There are some great bits.”

 — Larry Switzky, CurtainUp [Boston]

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a classic of the genre…. entertaining”

 — Alex Renton, The Independent [London]

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comic and ultimately poignant

 — Zack Smith, The Independent Weekly

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“this Mamet masterpiece covers so much in the space of less than an hour … filled with wisdom and befuddlement …”

 — Steve Allen, Stage Door St. Louis

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“… feels like a sunny, funny, poetically dazzling version of Waiting For Godot. “

 — Paul Tamburello, pt at large

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“Mamet’s geezers of the day, Emil and George, are perfectly typical know-it-alls. Their urgently delivered speeches occasionally reach heights of ignorance so lofty it’s hilarious.

 — Byron Kerman, St. Louis Magazine

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The Duck Variations is an entertaining and thought-provoking little gem

 — Donn Saylor, Examiner.com

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“I am awed by the insight of the twenty-something Mamet into the minds of these elderly gentlemen. Rich with metaphor, the discourse is really about the important things in life, such as the value of friendship, the fear of being alone, and the inevitability of mortality, even if the duo uses their feathered friends to illustrate their points.… good and genuine …”

 — Nancy Grossman, Broadway World

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a lot of wit and wisdom

 — Andrea Braun, The Vital Voice [St. Louis]

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“…Mamet’s uncannily keen way with the way we talk is also at its prime…. Emil and George do indeed talk about nothing, and in doing so tell us just about everything. …. Duck may seem like Mamet Lite, but it reveals all of the strengths that are found in its noisier successors. “

 — Les Gutman, CurtainUp (NYC)

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“[an] existentialist comedy that shows Mamet doing theatrically what Bach did on the piano in his Goldberg Variations. Taking a theme and running riffs on it with metaphor never too far beneath the surface…. This metaphorical dimension, along with Mamet’s humour, make this an entertaining but all too short … treat.”

 — Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

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clever and at times, laugh-out-loud funny…. I was surprised at how fast the hour flew by (pun absolutely intended).”

 — Boston Theatre Review

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“Mamet is a real playwright, with a distinctive vision and a hearteningly broad range.… The piece is introspective, elegiac, mental…. extremely moving.”

 — Michael Feingold, The Village Voice (1975)

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Duck Variations has altered its tone … over the years.  [It now seems] almost … a comedy sketch, brash and fast and full of beans.”

 — Michael Feingold, The Village Voice (2000)

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