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Grandma Duck Is Dead, by Larry Shue


Comedy in 1 act

Publisher: Dramatists Play Service

Place and Time: a college dormitory, nighttime, early June, 1968

Persons of the Play:

These five are college undergraduates:


M, "wry, fly-haired, easily bewildered, hopeful, wishy-washy... among friends, his unprepossessing character is occasionally rescued by the emergence of a certain madness -- what might even be called talent or brilliance were it applied to any remotely useful endeavor"


M, "plump, glistening, shirtless, sleeping hulk... a sort of orotund dignity... given his lofty spirit, and considering he would rather look different and be somewhere else, he is astonishingly patient"


M, resembles the "uncomely but resourceful" badger, "stirs things up around here, usually just to see what will happen"


M, African-American, does a good Ringo Starr impersonation

(The four men engage in fantasy as a defense, and because it's fun. "Somehow, when it was time to put away childish things, they all looked around, saw no one watching, and decided to keep theirs." There is an air of "desperate silliness.")


F, "well-appointed, clear-eyed, well-washed, willful and pleasant to behold. A sort of New England no-nonsense attitude about everything is her greatest asset, as well as her greatest flaw."


F, "the housemother, whom, alas, we are never to see -- but from her shrill Southern voice and the height at which people address her through the doorway, we can tell that she's real little, and real old, and not what you'd call that smart"

Set: old dormitory room

Productions: Milwaukee Repertory Theater, 1979

Milwaukee cast:

  • WOODY: James Pickering
  • BADGE: Bruce Somerville
  • BEN DAVIDSON: Jack McLaughlin-Gray
  • ESPERANZA: Michael Simpson
  • PAULA: Heather Moore
  • MA PRESLEY: Norma Levin

Quoted material above is taken directly from the published text of the play.

Larry Shue, an appreciation
The Foreigner ||| The Nerd
Grandma Duck Is Dead ||| My Emperor's New Clothes
Wenceslas Square

the chorister's c ||| A Honey of an Anklet

Last update: Saturday, 21 July 2018.
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