Goose is a heartwarming family friendly play about a 13 year old boy who is alone on his birthday. Seemingly normal at first, Dallin is incredibly intelligent and obsessed with space. Missing his father, he comforts himself with the theory of relativity, reassuring himself that it won’t be too long until he can see him again. Well written and convincingly acted by Michael Yichao, this is an unusual but refreshing play.
The greatest strength of Yichao’s performance is that he manages to sound exactly like an excitable thirteen year old. He stumbles over some words, but even this seems to fit his character and his passion for science, which he expresses so constantly, is very endearing. Though playful in so many ways Yichao also successfully includes some very touching moments. Alone with his party hat, it is tragic to hear Dallin desperately trying to be happy and the moment in which he is finally honest and yells: ‘This is the worst birthday ever!’ truly sounds like the beginnings of teenage angst. The occasional humour doesn’t work on the audiences and some jokes aren’t entertaining enough to receive even a little laughter, but it is difficult not to care about Dallin nonetheless.
The second half of the play takes a completely different direction and it is so unrealistic that I’m not quite sure if it works. The answer to all of Dallin’s problems appears in the form of a Goose from space, complete with quacking sounds. Flying through space and revisiting a telling hunting trip with his father involving geese there is the possibility that this is all the product of Dallin’s imagination. However, the Goose costume itself is so ridiculous that it makes everything more comical than it does moving. Dancer Sarah Shoemaker is able to pretend to fly whilst perching on Yichao’s back showing the choreography to at least be somewhat effective, but at other points it simply feels too fantastical to relate to.
The end partly fixes things and the play finishes with the audience still adoring a vulnerable Dallin. I can’t help feeling that the idea of a space goose itself needs quite a lot of refining, however, as unique a performance as it is.