This is not a play about birdwatching, although a birdwatcher, and birdwatching, feature strongly. It is a play about people: people growing up; people in love and people not communicating.
Samantha Robinson plays, convincingly, a gangly, giggly, excitable fourteen year old ornithologist, who discovers nesting Kentish Plovers in, appropriately, Kent. While the character is a trifle stereotypical, that's only because she's a conglomeration of habits we've all seen in fellow birders (though none of us have them ourselves, of course — do we?) including appalling dress sense, an oversize rucksack plus — and I've seen this done - a half eaten banana and a half finished sandwich, each retrieved from a coat pocket for an occasional nibble before being returned.
As she excitedly observes their progress, her parents (Kathryn Pogson and Nick Lumley) dissect their marriage, and their friendships with unseen others, sowly, honestly and painfully.
There are a few niggling anachronisms. Anna's scope is clearly too modern for the play's 1979 setting, and it's odd to see Anna reading about Plovers from a guidebook held open at a page clearly depicting Barnacle Geese, but most of the audience, being theatre lovers rather than birders, probably won't have noticed. At least several good points were made about the need to submit proper records and protect nesting birds!
This ensemble piece, with just the three actors, minimal props and exceedingly well compiled sound-effects, finds an ideal home in the small space of the Rep's "The Door" mini-stage, though sound bleeding from the main stage next door is not only intrusive, but a discourtesy to both audience and cast.
On Thursday, the audience left for interval drinks, somewhat bemused, with several apparently unconnected narrative strands unresolved. This is far from a criticism, though; more an appreciation of the masterful way in which the final act pulled everything together, powerfully and satisfyingly.
"Girl, watching", directed by Natasha Betteridge, was part of the Rep's Beyond The Boundaries festival of new writing. It has adult content. See it if you can!
Please remember that opinions expressed are those of the individual reviewer, and not necessarily the West Midland Bird Club.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Tuesday 21 May 2013 16:12:41
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