N(orman) F(rederick) Simpson J. G. Weightman - Essay

J. G. Weightman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mr Simpson has revealed in a newspaper interview that he was not aware of Ionesco when he wrote [A Resounding Tinkle]. If one did not know this, one would say that it is an application of the Ionesco shock technique to English suburbia. The absurd is being consistently used to explode the dreariness of the conventional world. The elephant [in the play represents], I suppose, love of animals carried to the extreme and also the animal part of human nature, which has been evacuated, leaving only a dried husk. The reading of poems, instead of having a drink, is a way of emphasizing by inversion the weakness of contemporary language. The wireless service is nonsense because these people live according to dead forms that they long ago ceased to understand. The wireless reflects their speech to show that they are not individuals but anonymous types. They don't really live; they repeat behaviour patterns. The uncle's change of sex is accepted at once, after a little coo of wonder, as if it were a new suit, because all sorts of changes can take place nowadays and leave the surface of prosiness unruffled.

The difficulty, as with Ionesco, is to decide whether the playwright is making a general poetic statement or just standing normal situations on their heads one after the other to produce a series of local effects. I think deductions can be made from the dottiness of A Resounding Tinkle, but I am not sure that all the details fit in or that there is any great dramatic body to the work. Madness, of course, is more difficult to evaluate at first sight than sense. Sense you can grasp by an immediate effort of will, but madness has to be left in the memory to see if it will endure. The play causes a titillation of amusement and a few good laughs, but my...

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