Krapp's Last Tape Review

Submitted by Alex Eades on Tue, 14 Aug '12 6.55pm
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Samuel Beckett/The Assembly Rooms
Fiona Baddeley (director), Samuel Beckett (writer)
Tom Owen (Krapp)
Running time

Samuel Beckett is well known for his philosophical dabblings. Actually, dabblings is something of an understatement. He bathed and swam in murky philosophical pools throughout his life. Anyone who has ever seen Waiting For Godot or/and Endgame will recognise his air of thoughtful contemplation.

But what you would have also no doubt identified and rejoiced in is his talent for humour. A lot of his stories are actually very funny.

Krapp’s Last Tape sees Krapp on his 69th birthday. He sits in his room, flicking through old tapes he recorded when he was 39 and then 27. Here we see fragments of a life plagued with failure and heartbreak. Now in his twilight years, alone and a drunk, he attempts to make sense of the decisions he made all those years ago and reach a place of acceptance and peace.

Originally written for (and influenced by) Irish actor Patrick Magee, the list of notable performances of Beckett’s semi-autobiographical masterpiece include the likes of Harold Pinter, John Hurt and Michael Gambon.

Now, the wonderful Tom Owen (best known for The Last Of The Summer Wine) can proudly stand side by side these global heavyweights in producing one of the most memorable performances of Beckett’s misfortunately named fellow.

What really shines through with this production is the humanity of the character. The humour is simple but effective (Beckett was a huge fan of the comedians of silent film) and his glee at the sight of a banana is as moving as his sorrow for his distant past.

The energy of Owen’s, both emotionally and physically, is quite staggering. Every twitch and grunt seems to have been carefully calculated and thought through, building one of the most memorable performances of the Fringe so far.

It is still Beckett, though, so don’t expect an entirely cosy ride. The themes, as you’ve no doubt gathered, are quite dark and depressing at times. You can literally smell the decay in the air as Krapp approaches his final tape. But it is an expertly acted and directed show that will move you deeply and tickle you profoundly. Yes, Beckett is that philosophical. He will even tickle you profoundly.

Show Times: Aug 14th - 26th, 2:45pm

Ticket Prices: £10.00 (£9.00)