RHODY LIFE

Confounding, quirky 'Krapp's Last Tape' at Wilbury

by DON FOWLER
Posted 4/15/21

Theater review by DON FOWLER A tip of the hat to Wilbury Theatre for bringing live theater back to Rhode Island in Samuel Beckett's one-act, one actor play, "Krapp's Last Tape." I first saw the play over 50 years ago in a tiny loft on the third floor of

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RHODY LIFE

Confounding, quirky 'Krapp's Last Tape' at Wilbury

Posted

A tip of the hat to Wilbury Theatre for bringing live theater back to Rhode Island in Samuel Beckett’s one-act, one actor play, “Krapp’s Last Tape.”

I first saw the play over 50 years ago in a tiny loft on the third floor of an Olneyville mill building, produced by Alias Stage, now Gamm Theatre.

Now I am sitting in the spacious WaterFire Arts Center on the fringe of Olneyville. There is a platform in the middle of a sculpture display, with a single light shining down on a desk and a chair.

On the desk are an old reel-to-reel tape recorder and boxes of tapes.

Entering from a darkened distance is 69-year-old Krapp (Tom Roberts). He sits in silence, slowly rising to unlock the desk drawer, remove a banana, slowly peel and eat it. After moments of silence, he sets up the tape recorder.

Krapp plays a recording of himself from his younger days, age 39, pausing and repeating his words and occasionally commenting on them.

Like Beckett’s well-known “Waiting for Godot,” what is said has been analyzed and dissected over the years, resulting in many interpretations.

The 50-minute play is filled with memories, many involving regrets over choices made. An idealist at a young age, Krapp now appears depressed and confused as he looks back on his life and the choices he has made.

At one point, he sinks into despair, rips out a tape and throws it to the ground.

Scholars have pondered over the interpretation of “last tape” for years, and like “Godot” have attempted to bring their analysis to every word and action.

Director Josh Short has emphasized the pauses and movements, helping to create an image of Beckett and his personal life.

Personally, the play still leaves me befuddled.

Veteran actor Tom Roberts has created the perfect character, with all his body language and nuances. Watching him react to his recorded words from years past is fascinating.

“Krapp’s Last Tape” is at the WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley St., Providence, April 16-18 and April 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. Visit thewilburygroup.org for additional information and ticket availability. Seating is limited, and masks and social distancing are required.

Krapp, tape, Wilbury

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