Written and performed by Sarah Milton at King’s Head Theatre, Tumble Tuck is a voyage into the mind of Daisy, a young adult grappling with her insecurities, and the need to succeed when the definition of such is vague. Told through recall and imitation, Milton’s sustained performance of a demanding role that by the end spans five additional characters, is engaging and ambitious.
Particularly, the text does an excellent job of navigating between comedy and the more solemn moments, often in the same breath. The ability to shift authentically and seamlessly is just a facet of the hugely charismatic character Milton has crafted.
In the need to separate the roles, there was a tendency to sway towards almost melodramatic, imitation acting. As the story is given from Daisy’s perspective, it’s clear that these are representations of her recollections. Despite this, the main character got caught in this acting style, leading to a general lack of nuance and vulnerability. At the end of the hour, as much as I liked Daisy, elements of her still felt hidden without an instant of genuine rawness.
Whilst well written, the play is awkwardly paced with little distinction between scenes. Rather, it comes across as a stream of consciousness; captivating, yet oddly structured. Directed by Tom Wright, there appear to be missed opportunities to reinforce the text.
Given the bareness of the stage, the task to elevate is mostly left to lighting and sound design; the latter of which goes largely unused; especially missed when it comes to crafting the distinct settings we move through. These elements, which feel on the brink of greatness leave a longing by the end of the hour – there is further honing to pursue, so that the material has an overarching focus to make the impact it deserves.
Though Daisy’s emotional journey through memories and realisations is vastly enjoyable to watch, her positioning to her listener seemed uncertain, if not unconsidered. I found myself waiting for the penny to drop, framing her experiences within a larger context to truly get to the meat of questions posed by Tumble Tuck of what it means to be successful as an individual, to yourself and others.
The distance created through stylistic choices by Milton and Wright is frustrating, as it prevents truly connecting to the otherwise lively and vivid world presented. Although the longing for extremities remains, the brink I found myself at was endearing, touching, at times even sobering.
Tumble Tuck is playing at the King’s Head Theatre until 12 May
Photo: Scott Rylander