- OTHER MEDIA
- Cutting Ball Theater Stages Beckett's 'Krapp's Last Tape'
Despite Being a One-Man Show, This Production of The Baffling Playwright's
Short Work Is Worthwhile
- Daily Californian ( Arielle Little)
- It would be easy to argue that Samuel Beckett's one-act, one-man show
"Krapp's Last Tape" has no plot, no progression and no purpose.
That is what critics said about Beckett's "Waiting for Godot"
when it first premiered in 1953. And they were right about the lack of
plot, but they missed that the lack of plot was sort of the purpose. "Krapp's
Last Tape" is likewise not focused on plot-it is instead focused on
the thoughts and personal struggles of one man.
- San Francisco's Cutting Ball Theater's production of "Krapp's
Last Tape" is a fascinating piece of theater. It is not so much a
play about the way people interact with each other as it is a play about
how people interact with themselves.
- Semi-autobiographical, the piece consists entirely of one man, who
is given only one, semi-comical name: Krapp. Having recorded a tape for
every year of his life, Krapp (Paul Gerrior) sits at on 69th birthday and
listens to the reel he made thirty years prior.
- On a superficial level, there isn't much to this production. The intimate
Exit on Taylor Theater is shrouded in darkness, illuminated only by a single,
hanging lamp centered above an old desk. Boxes upon boxes of old tape spools
are stacked beside of it, and a singular, ancient tape recorder rests in
one corner. Needless to say, it is all about Krapp. One-man shows have
a reputation for becoming very tedious, very fast. This production of "Krapp's
Last Tape," however, around 50 minutes in length, is utterly entrancing.
- The minimalist staging, as prescribed by Beckett in the script, allows
the audience to be absorbed in the minutiae movements of the actor. Gerrior's
Krapp is a intriguing creature: His fingers slip as he tries to place the
tape in the recorder, he greedily chews a banana, he walks grudgingly around
his desk and his mouth curls around certain words.
- It is clear that director Rob Melrose was attentive to the details.
Rightly so, as the details are what makes this production. As the recording
plays and the elder Krapp listens and reacts, the vague details of his
life are unearthed, strewn about on an aluminum desk and slowly pieced
together. He laughs at his former self, slightly disgusted at his own foolish
romanticism, but the overall feeling his performance is one of somber isolation.
Often Gerrior goes in and out of very brief moments of being aware of the
audience. This phenomenon, usually grounds for criticism, was here so subtle
and so fascinating to the point of being almost spooky-as if he tries to
connect with the audience but somehow fails, remaining trapped in the recesses
of his own memory.
- Also memorable is the invisible performance of David Sinaiko as the
voice of the younger Krapp, emanating from the tape recorder onstage. His
voice is emphatic but soothing and calmly measured, maintaining the poetry
of the lines without compromising realism.
- "Krapp's Last Tape" is as bizarre it gets. But it is wonderfully
so. The performance is transfixing, and the puzzling playwright's strikingly
poetic lines are spoken with care and reverence. This show is done with
a great appreciation for Beckett, which is to say that it takes a great
appreciation of Beckett to understand it. Cutting Ball has created a to-the-letter
interpretation of this eerie script, a sort of psychic look into the human
condition. As the show ends and the light above the desk fades into darkness,
the tape recorder continues to spin monotonously, the soft grating noise
still barley audible as the real world comes back into focus.