Saturday 13 October 2018

Krapp's Last Tape lingers in its look-back of melancholy
All the basic condition theatre requires is that fire last night & those costumes 
& the human voice & people gathered together.  
Sir Trevor Nunn, Director (Cats, 1981 \ Les Miserables, 1985)

From the footlights : “Life is comic to those who think, and tragic to those who feel.” So said 18th century British writer Horatio Walpole. And no more loyal acolyte of this litany than Irish poet / playwright Samuel Beckett, an agnostic lapsed-Lutheran. His Krapp’s Last Tape is currently on show at Tyrant Studios on Seymour. 

Written when he was 52, the time was 1958 at the height of theatre of the absurd in Europe. “A late evening in the future” Beckett described his one-man scenes to come. Further, he pretty well predicts in KLT the soulless heart of social media in the 21st century -- hits replace sincerity. Words chase words chase words. Meaning is elusive. 

What we get on stage is a chronic constipated alcoholic named, glibly, Krapp. Since a 20-something, on each and every birthday Krapp has made a recording on a Tandberg 3BF. Each spool tells of his last year’s dreams, hopes and aspirations. Krapp is now 69. He reflects on the tape made when he was 39 in which he is heard reacting to a tape made in his late 20’s. The entire exercise is vintage Walpole. And then some.

Linden Banks as Mr. Krapp loves a couple of things over time : bananas to relieve his constipation, and a tape recorder on his birthday to set down a record of his reflections on the year past. 
Photo credit : David Thomas Newham
What the show brings to the stage : Beckett's worldview is pure duality : Light / dark. Heart / head. Body / soul. Reconciling them was a fateful futility for Krapp. No danger whatever he would achieve Buddha's existential challenge : “Better to conquer yourself than to win 1,000 battles.” 

Lifelong consumption of-&-by booze. Six hours of pub time per diem Krapp tells us, not to mention countless quaffs at home the audience hears him swill off-stage. Bananas — up to 4-a-day — striving both for lax bowels and a relaxed spirit. Limp sex limply remembered. “I said again I thought it was hopeless and no good going on and she agreed, without opening her eyes.” 

Depression : “The dark I have always sought to keep under is…reality.” The dawning insight an 8th decade invites : “Everything there, everything on this old muckball, all the light and dark and famine and feasting of the ages! Yes! Let that go! Jesus!"

Production values that shine through : David Thomas Newham's minimalist set of white table with black tape-spool boxes matches Krapp's white rumpled shirt and hi-tops against his black vest and well-lived-in gabardine slacks.

For his part, sound designer Daniel Deorksen chose Tom Wait's 1st album "Lonely eyes" chart as a book-end thematically to Krapp's closing sob over the girl in the rowboat who rejected his gropy advances when he was a sprouting youth. Nice bit.

Acting pin-spot : As Krapp, B.C. veteran Linden Banks wrings every ounce of pathos imaginable from this script that might rightly be subtitled "The last lament of an aging lothario".

He does a droopy banana schtick where it hangs, peeled, out of his mouth for a good minute or so. Twice. I was reminded of the anecdote about Sigmund Freud who told his underclass about the Cuban he sucked on mercilessly : "Oh, and it's also a cigar...!" he quipped. 

Mr. Banks' stage business -- agitated hands, fists-&-feet, and gnarly voice -plus- his cradling and cuddling of the tape recorder -- was superb. Quite the contrast to the chipper 39-year-old Krapp we hear and imagine from Banks' recording onto Spool 5 from Box 3.

Who gonna like : Too bad Beckett didn't see fit to end his play with Krapp's nearly final gutterance into the tape machine's mic : "Be again! Leave it at that. Be again !" instead of the 30-years-back reprise of "Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness." Bathos, that.

Fact is this is Beckett self-indulgence writ large -- solipsism to a fault. For drama fans who think a neurotic man's late-life self-reflections are a worthy watch, this production is pretty close to ideal : its lengthy pauses alone are worth their silence in delight. I was completely smitten. 

No question, 7 Tyrants gives this script a proud and boisterous and chewy hour that absurdist fans will surely embrace. They, like me, will leave sadly happy from their experience.

Particulars : Script by Samuel Beckett.  Produced by Seven Tyrants Theatre.  At the Tyrants Studio stage, top floor, The Penthouse Club on Seymour @ Nelson. On until October 26, 2018.  Run-time 60 minutes, no intermission.  Tickets & schedule information @ Tyrants

Production team :  Director David Thomas Newham.  Lighting & set Designer David Thomas Newham.  Sound Designer Daniel Deorksen.  Stage Manager Susan D. Currie. Properties & Costumes David Thomas Newham.  Publicist Marnie Wilson.  Front of House Manager Cobra Ramone.

Seven Tyrants extends Very Special Thanks to :

Danny Filippone and the Filippone family
The Historic Penthouse Nightclub
Ines Orner
Gwen Roberts
Amanda Ryan


No comments:

Post a Comment