Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gambon in Krapp's Last Tape

Covent Garden's diminutive Duchess Theatre is currently home to the Gate Theatre (Dublin) production of Beckett's 1958 one-man piece.  Written as a vehicle for Patrick Macnee, the 50-minute performance opens in protracted silence - with Krapp seated, head-in-hands, bent over his desk, in the dark.  Minutes ensue, until eventually, he stirs and we begin to learn a little about him, by way of his penchant for bananas - with some hilarity. 

Appetite satisfied, Krapp starts to reflect on his life - largely via his recorded voice - on tapes he made thirty years back, as a 39-year-old.  Poignancy predominates, suffused with humour, as he toys, not just with bananas, but with the resonance of words: spoooool...

Shortly, Krapp dips into his baser cravings; despite saying that he wouldn't want those years back, he returns - repeatedly - to a significant encounter: "my face in her breasts, my hands on her" and dwells on "the beauty of her eyes".  Although, as an audience, we don't uncover the finer detail as to why it didn't endure, we understand that his dalliances took on a less than wholesome and happy turn when he refers to his later entanglements with "Fanny, bony old ghost of a whore".

Sir Michael Gambon is completely captivating, totally involving as sadly reflective, limping Krapp in his lonely birthday reflections.  The piece remained with me, and my companion, for many thought-provoking moments and hours.  Brilliant Beckett, stellar Gambon, great production.

It runs at the Duchess Theatre, Catherine Street, WC2, until November 20th.

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