Cerebral theatre: what’s the point? A resoundingly bad theatrical experience

A Resounding Tinkle at #56 The Rosemary Branch

A Resounding Tinkle

Sometimes theatre is just bad. But what if it wants to be bad? What if it wants to turn its audience off? What do we do then? N. F. Simpson’s A Resounding Tinkle is such a play. A piece of real absurdist theatre, it’s not only complete nonsense, but mind-numbingly dull nonsense. I defy anyone to watch this play and not utterly despair.

The cast give as good a performance of this infuriating script as is possible. Occasionally we laugh: there are rare moments when we locate an esoteric joke we half get, and smile in order to try and give ourselves a stable footing. But really the only funny thing is how terrible an experience this is.

At the beginning of the show there were five people in the audience; the second half three. Apparently there are two versions of this play, one condensed fifty minute version, and one interminable two act version. Why the production company wanted to plough on with this unsaleable ‘actors’ play’ is beyond reason.

This isn’t absurdism in the vein of Albee or Beckett – there are no ideas here. Perhaps Simpson expects his battered and assaulted audience to feel vindicated by his ‘It takes a trained mind to relish a non sequitur’ quip, but as it is it’s just insulting.

‘Intellectual’ jokes abound, but I wonder whether this seemingly cerebral piece of theatre isn’t really quite base. It doesn’t take a great amount of skill to write a play that is boring and makes little sense. Is this peculiar obfuscatory theatre actually an insult to our intelligence?

On another note, I’ve always made it my aim to write about the experience of a theatre itself, if there’s a relevant point to be made. The Rosemary Branch is a pretty standard pub theatre, and I’m something of a veteran lone theatregoer, but I would in all seriousness not recommend going there alone. Perhaps the anxiety induced by the play itself didn’t help, but there were a few characters in the area that I’d really rather have not come into contact with. Take heed readers!

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