The Sociable Plover
Guy Masterson & Ronnie Toms @ Higher Ground – Theatre
9:30pm, Sat 13 Mar 2010
“It’s just started,” said whoever was on the door as I ran in… I’d forewarned them of the possibility of my lateness. Trying to soften my footfalls as I quickly crept around the walkways leading into the Theatre space, I took a seat in the front row at the back section. As I slump into the chair, amazed that I’ve made it in to the show with a vague semblance of punctuality, I almost drown in the tranquility of The Sociable Plover – Guy Masterson is sitting in a small bird-watching hut onstage, peering outwards through binoculars, gently nibbling at a sandwich. There’s soft sounds of birdlife in the background.
My heart slows down a little; my senses pick up. It suddenly hits me that I know nothing about The Sociable Plover (least of all the meaning behind the curious name), other than Guy had insisted that, of all the shows he was presenting at Higher Ground this year, this was the one I would like the most. And for awhile, I was puzzled by Guy’s comment; I know nothing about birdwatching (other than the fact that enthusiasts tend to exhibit a level of passionate OCD that I’m most certainly familiar with from my other hobby), so the quiet opening – though most certainly peaceful – took me a bit by surprise. Or anti-surprise, if you like.
It wasn’t until the sudden arrival of Ronnie Toms’ character Dave that things pick up; and then the conflict between the two, the mental manoeuvring, the jousting between the brawn and the brain begins. Neither character is particularly likeable – Dave is brash and uncouth and on the run, Masterson’s Roy is obsessively pedantic – but there’s traits in both that are immediately identifiable. It’s hard to pick a side here, and as they get to know each other fascinating little diversions occur. There’s a couple of twists, and the ending seems perfect.
It’s all wonderfully acted and – as with all the shows at Higher Ground this year – beautifully produced; the set is magnificent, full of wonderful detail. But the surprising thing was that The Sociable Plover is funny, as well as being dramatic; it really is a wonderful script, satisfying on many levels. Great stuff.