Firing Blanks

The play opens with a teenage girl feeding ducks from a park bench. A man who has just found out that he is infertile enters into the proceedings and a strange, unlikely friendship ensues between the two. It’s an endearing piece: the characters are easy to relate to, while the comedy is light and subtle throughout. Good use was made of props – the girl’s red coat was used as a cushion and then to represent a little boy in the sequences of interpretive dance. A busker was on-stage throughout, playing very good guitar riffs that perfectly accompanied both these sequences and the pair’s conversations.

However, although some moments were really quite heart-wrenching, this was more because of the subject matter rather than the acting or the quality of the writing. The main problem with the production is that it’s supposed to play off the awkward tension between the two strangers, which is demonstrated in the actors’ facial expressions, their widening eyes, and small winces at different points in conversation. However, the tension never really amounts to substantial conflict, which makes the pace slow and the story predictable.

Firing Blanks also bears a striking resemblance to David Mamet’s The Duck Variations, where two elderly men sit on a park bench watching ducks, philosophising about the world, and weaving the two activities together. Firing Blanks bears an even more striking resemblance to the film Juno, in that it features a friendship between a teenage girl and an older man, while its main themes are parenthood, pregnancy, and adoption. Overall, the impression the performance created was that it had nothing really new to say on these subject. Having said this, it is an enjoyable show, and if you’re looking for something sweet and sentimental, it sure hits the spot.

The Blurb

Richard's infertile. Kate, a fierce-witted teenage girl he meets on a park bench, is an unlikely therapist. Tom Spencer’s funny, thoughtful play about donor conception (and ducks) is, ‘a little gem’ ***** (, with original live music.