Tom Neenan has been a regular Fringe attraction for several years now, bringing a succession of one-man pastiches - Edwardian ghost story, Vaudeville Horror tale, 1950s British Science Fiction, etc. – easily defined by their knowledgeable wit, focus on wordplay and speed of delivery. Yet while many of his previous central characters have been oblivious to certain of their own character flaws, Neenan takes this to a whole new level with his latest creation. . . . . Tom Neenan.
Neenan's strongest material arises from Tom's total blindness to his own failings.
Tom's girlfriend, Hannah, is missing; she vanished one day in a motorway service station, leaving only a cryptic text message: "It's Always Infinity". As any sensible, forward-thinking, feminist man would do, Tom has decided to both search for her himself (who needs Missing Persons?) and turn the whole experience into a multi-media theatrical work on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Which, of course, Tom sees as a perfectly proper response to the situation. But then Tom IS the kind of man who believes it possible for him to perform a scene that passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours.
It's fair to say that on this occasion, Neenan, the show's creator, rather than Tom - the character, on stage – is flying without the reliable parachute of easily identifiable and mockable genre characteristics; It's Always Infinity is very much a character-based comedy where his strongest material arises from Tom's total blindness to his own failings, and just how ridiculous his thought processes and actions actually are. Arguably, Neenan occasionally over-eggs the point, not least at the beginning, but then again it's difficult to argue against a full room of people laughing at Tom's amazingly skewered idea of a perfect date.
As expected, there is an entirely sensible explanation for the whole situation, which comes just as Tom is on the point of totally losing it on stage. Certainly, you can never criticise Neenan for holding back as a performer; his commitment to his characters is full-on, and he's always willing to let the audience decide about them—even as his scripts carefully guide us to the "right" decision about them, the outcome being clever, and thought-provoking.