KRAPP’S LAST TAPE   ****

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THEATRE

CHURCH HILL THEATRE (E I F)  

AUGUST  4TH TO 27TH 20.00 ( NOT 10, 11, 12, 13, 16 OR 22) PLUS 15.00 AUGUST 19, 20, 24,26, 27.

This is the legendary short one-man play by the famous Nobel-prize winning playwright Samuel Beckett. It is performed here by the Irish actor Barry McGovern, who has appeared in Beckett based shows at this festival before.

We have the figure of Krapp, aged sixty nine, alone and preparing to listen to tapes from his life exactly thirty years earlier. In these earlier tapes there are already regrets ,and there are evocations of time with an intensely remembered woman, in a punt, and descriptions of her as she lies before the Krapp who once was.

Before turning on the tape machine, Krapp has some rituals to fulfil. He takes out of a side draw a banana, carefully peels it, drops the peel. Subsequently he is careful to avoid stepping on it, until…   A second banana is similarly dealt with. Krapp has fun with the word “spool”, which seems to fascinate and delight him.

The memories stimulate and disturb him. He turns the tape on and off, goes back and forth. The Beckett estate people keep a tight hold on how his plays can be performed, but the actor can bring a personal approach none the less. Barry McGovern brings to the script a serous intensity but also a sly sense of humour, and his Krapp seems to view the past differently from moment to moment.

Being older than Krapp now, as I was not when I last saw the play, I feel grateful that for me at the moment life is still wonderful, but there are regrets of course, and this play does make you insistently aware of how the past can take over; there were beautiful moments, and if only they could last for ever, but life moves ever on.

This is one to carry in the mind, and reflect on.

Tony Challis