Krapp’s Last Tape: Fringe Review


A Lasting Production


Tom Owen does well to capture the raw physicality of Beckett’s anti-hero in this new production of Krapp’s Last Tape. A dark play that focuses on one man during his 69th birthday, it sees the world-wearied individual take part in his yearly ritual of recording his reflections on a tape-recorder. Fragments of his life are pieced together through past recordings that are played out to the audience, painting a picture of a bitter writer who drinks too much and has a rather unusual penchant for bananas.
A play that is largely silent during the first half, Owen captivated the audience through his subtle facial expressions and ability to convey a wealth of information without saying a word. The wrinkled lines of his face, accentuated by makeup and disheveled clothing, gave the impression of a person reluctant to hold on to life, yet unable to do anything about it.

As he listens to a recording made when he was 39, he laughs at the fool he used to be. However, the irony comes when his 39-year-old self comments on the fool he was at 20, thus implying that, although he has changed, he remains unable to overcome an inherent foolishness. Flickers of recognition are seen in the eyes of Owen when he hears his younger self recounting a trip punting with a young woman. The pain he willingly endures at recalling the sensitive moment is beautifully realised in Owen’s performance.

Commendation has to be made for the use of space, as a tiny stage containing only a desk, chair, and overhead light proved sufficient for the production. An area hidden from view towards the corner of the room signified a storage cupboard where Krapp collected his boxes of spools and drams of alcohol. For such a destitute and sinister production, Owen did well to retain the audience’s interest despite disruptive noise from a performance next door.

Though some of the more comedic elements of the script appeared overly accentuated, Fiona Baddeley’s production of Krapp’s Last Tape is one that does justice to Beckett’s bleak script.

Taken from Broadway Baby, published Aug 2012.

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