BBC Radio 4 Extra, 25 December 2012
First performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1957, A Resounding
Tinkle has been described as both "unstageable," and "absurd." The play apparently inspired the work of later comic geniuses,
such as Peter Cook and the Monty Python, and was one of Eric Sykes' favourite pieces (the play was broadcast as part of an
extended tribute to the great scriptwriter, actor and all-round comic genius).
There is no plot to speak of: Bro and Middie Paradock (Deryck Guyler, Alison Leggatt)
are sitting at home drinking nectar when there is a knock at the door: Middie answers it and tells Bro that he has been asked
to form a government, a task which proves difficult, if not impossible, at six o'clock in the evening. Uncle Ted (Betty
Hardy) comes in having undergone a sex-change operation; while the family are still happy in one another's company, it proves
difficult for Bro and Middie to think of him/her as a man. The couple become quite concerned, when they believe that
inanimate objects have been rendered animate: "There are knives in the drawer if they want to go at each other." Other
subjects for debate include the couple's pet boa-constrictor, the difficulties of living in a bungalow (which might or might
not have two storeys), Bro's gum-boots, and dinosaurs. Oh, and we must not forget the parody-sermon that forms an interlude
to the action.
Originally broadcast in 1960, Charles Lefeaux's production proved how well a play
like this can work on radio - as opposed to the stage. The medium can create its own worlds through sound and voices;
concepts such as 'realism' and 'truth to life' seem insignificant. The two actors - Guyler and Leggatt - came across
as a perfectly ordinary middle-class suburban couple, treating absurd subjects as if they were daily occurrences. By
such techniques they underlined the randomness of our existence: what we think of as "normal" might actually be "abnormal"
in different socio-cultural contexts.
For aficionados of the absurd, this comedy offers a feast of verbal pyrotechnics.