The Sociable Plover

by Tim Whitnall

Fourthwall Contemporary Theatre / Directed and designed by Peter Dann

Sterts Theatre, Upton Cross 9/08/12

A bird watcher’s hide may not be the most glamorous location for a thriller but in Fourthwall’s production of “The Sociable Plover” the isolated, cold setting provides the perfect backdrop to this ingenious play.

On a stormy December morning, Roy Tunt, a keen twitcher, arrives at the hide in the hope that Vanellus gregarious, the Sociable Plover, will appear out on the dunes and finally complete the list of British birds he has spotted. Tediously, but for the audience absorbingly , he organises his books and folders, places a photograph of his wife next to him, tidies up the hide, takes out his flask and boxes of Tupperware and waits.

Suddenly, in this refuge of calm a stranger bursts on the scene. Breathless and somewhat menacing, Dave John, an uneasy, jumpy character ruins Tunt’s peace.

In this intelligently written play, Peter Dann as Tunt exudes all the right quirkiness we associate with people who have obsessive hobbies. He’s dull, dresses in beige and only really shines when sharing facts about his subject. The scene when he demonstrates different bird calls is equally embarrassing and hilariously funny.  He is the perfect foil to Nic Early as John whose blustering, gung-ho character grows increasingly incredulous to Tunt’s mundane life.

As the story unfolds, the author Tim Whitnall cleverly illustrates how strangers react to each other; how they are inclined to reveal deeply personal information, desperate to try to find something they share (in Tunt and John’s case it is, bizarrely, power tools) and as the plot develops the writing is so clever, the audience really can’t guess where it’s all heading.

Swinging from laugh out loud moments to intense drama, both actors handle the script brilliantly. The claustrophobic atmosphere gradually draws the characters closer together and both Early and Dann carefully pace the dialogue drawing an exacting line between their personalities. But as the story develops further, can we be sure people are as they really seem?

This question makes the totally unexpected ending even more thrilling and it’s only when the audience flash back to all those subtle clues revealed during the play that it all satisfyingly makes sense.

An ultimately clever and entertaining performance… whoever said bird watching wasn’t exciting?!

Rick Barbery



The Sociable Plover

Fourthwall Contemporary Theatre

Grampound Village Hall - 29th September 2012

Following on from their acclaimed interpretation of Travels With My Aunt, Fourthwall are now touring Tim Whitnall’s The Sociable Plover.

This dark and riotously funny 2 hander is brilliantly carried by Peter Dann, playing Roy Tunt - an obsessive and very strange bird watcher, alongside Nic Early as Dave John, an intruder into Tunt’s hide and, indeed, his life.

The fun and intrigue builds slowly and gently, as Tunt eagerly anticipates the impending sighting of the one bird he has never spotted – the Sociable Plover. Yes, this is Roy Tunt’s big day, a day which becomes bigger and unexpectedly revealing by the minute as the comedy and dark twists to the story gain pace and Roy’s world unravels before our eyes.

A wonderfully entertaining performance which kept the audience riveted as the plot thickened and the shocks made us collectively gasp. Not seen Fourthwall? I urge you to catch this performance as an introduction to their work, you won’t be disappointed!

Further dates and venues can be found on their website:


Sheila Vanloo