I really must stop trying to "get" Beckett, we're clearly not meant to be together. Krapp's Last Tape runs for only 50 minutes (not that Nimax Theatres' prices reflect this) and Michael Gambon performs two shows a night. At least he won't lack for potassium as he eats two bananas in each show. After a hypnotically well-performed silent 10-minute opener in which Gambon can make dragging his knuckles across a desk fascinating, the dying Krapp replays the recording he made on his 39th birthday. Skipping over whatever he considered at the time to be the most important event of that year, he listens instead to himself recalling an encounter with a beautiful woman, and is reduced to helpless sobs. Finally he attempts to record his final birthday tape, a much more broken, bitter monologue.
I don't know, I can see how strong Gambon's performance is, and Beckett's railing against mortality should move me but I just can't engage with the play. The venue doesn't help - the Duchess may be the smallest of the old West End theatres but it's still too big for such an intimate show. With most of the text being a recording, Gambon's reactions have to sell the piece, but I felt too far away to connect with them. Maybe I should accept that Beckett's brand of apparent genius is one that just doesn't speak to me.
Krapp's Last Tape by Samuel Beckett is booking until the 20th of November at the Duchess Theatre.