This was a very well-played piece, which worked beautifully in York Theatre Royal studio space. The thing with Beckett is that you find yourself laughing when you feel maybe you shouldn’t. A member of the audience felt that he has to leave early because he had a fit of giggles at the start of the performance, but I think that laughing when watching a Beckett play isn’t a problem at all. There is some slapstick in the play with an obvious play on the old banana skin joke. Yet, as well as the comedy, there are also some very serious moments, as the play explores growing old as an old man reflects on his youth and he is clearly now so very lonely. The crackling of the tape as it reaches the end of the spool becomes a metaphor for the end of Krapp’s life. The tape has finished, silence is approaching and at the end of the play Krapp leaves the stage looking so shockingly pale, we feel that we are witnessing the last moments of his life.
When discussing playing Krapp, Harold Pinter spoke of the texture of the word ‘spool’ as the word rolls off the tongue and the vowel sounds of the word are as delight to hear. In this production, Kenneth Alan Taylor really makes the most of saying, ‘spool’ and demonstrating the wonderful texture of Beckett’s words. There are some exquisite moments in this production, such as the dark shadow Krapp casts as he drinks off stage, and it felt so much like it represented the darkness that the drink brings to people’s lives, and that that drink has literally overshadowed Krapp’s life.
Though Krapp’s Last Tape is a short piece every word, action and pause is a delight to hear or see and this was really brought out in this production through Taylor’s lovely performance in the title role.
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