Filled with witty word play, nonsensical quips and plenty of satire at the expense of the middle classes, A Resounding Tinkle creates a world of ridiculousness that is mentally exhausting but largely satisfying. N. F. Simpson’s prime example of absurdist comedy eschews plot in favour of a plunge into the incomprehensible. This production by Steel Theatre is generally well executed but at times clumsily so.
Choosing to stage the full-length version, rather than its one-act counterpart, is perhaps unnecessary. Whilst the first act teases the audience to find meaning where there is none, a frustratingly engaging device, the ideas communicated in the second seem repetitive and almost redundant. Except for an overly lengthy sketch involving the portrayal of critics discussing the play and serving to confirm the futility of its over-analysis, no progression is made and notions that are amusing in act one are exhausted by act two.
The cast are energetic and tackle the complicated script with commitment. Taking on multiple characters, the performers change personas with ease. Lizzy Mace is at her best in a comic monologue as a researcher explaining her study into audience reactions and Ben Higgins is memorable as the playwright who provides extra confusion and absurdity while attempting to add clarity to his jumble of concepts and musings. Alex Morgan and Hayley Richardson also form a charming double act. Although the actors occasionally stumble through the text, the enthusiasm with which they approach the play is commendable.
At points, the production lacks pace as a result of some awkward entrances and exits. The direction does, however, make good use of the space and the intimacy of the Rosemary Branch Theatre is well suited to plays, such as this, which require close performer/audience connections. The fourth wall demolished, audience reactions are shown to be equally as crucial to A Resounding Tinkle as the onstage exploits.
A play for those who like a good brain workout and a plethora of non-sequiturs, it makes for an enjoyable evening at the theatre rather than an overwhelmingly memorable experience.
A Resounding Tinkle is playing at the Rosemary Branch Theatre until the 23rd October, booking via the Rosemary Branch Theatre’s website.