After clearing his throat, Krapp’s first action is to check his pocket watch. Time is everything in Krapp’s Last Tape, as Krapp – an older man – retrieves, listens, and interacts with recordings from earlier years.
The tension between the present moment and memory lends what is on the surface a rather static play a large amount of emotional depth and engagement. Time is the subject and the theme, which is possibly why so much time is taken before Krapp even utters a word.
Max Gillies gives a lovely performance as Krapp, finding a beautiful balance between a sort of muted slapstick (banana peels, hands-free banana, bulging eyes, odd patterns of walking, a stand-off between himself and a pillar) and a truthful curiosity and vulnerability.
Director, Laurence Strangio has compensated for a physically minimalist show with glorious extra servings of foley, i.e. the sounds of Krapp’s movements, props, and other noises are magnified courtesy of at least one hidden microphone.
It’s a deft touch, one that heightens the simplest actions, such as fetching keys to open a drawer, working to help lift this man’s struggle with his own changing beliefs and memories into a compelling exploration of mortality and regret.
Krapp’s Last Tape
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 1 November 2018 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 11 November 2018
Information and Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com
Image: Max Gillies in Krapp’s Last Tape – photo by Sarah Walker
Review: David Collins