Krapp’s Last Tape (fortyfivedownstairs) – theatre review

Over the years, a number of well-known names – like John Hurt and Harold Pinter – have performed Samuel Beckett’s one-person, one-act play, Krapp’s Last Tape. Now the indefatigable Max Gillies joins them

I’m a Gillies fan. He certainly doesn’t let you down as he takes on the persona of a 69-year-old man who looks back at his life with curiosity and disdain. The character has seen better days; looks older than his age would suggest. He drinks too much and eats too many bananas. Everything of value, including bananas, is kept under lock and key in his old wooden desk, under less than ideal light.

Photo: Sarah Walker

He consults his ledger and determines to listen to an audio recording he made 30 years ago on reel to reel tape. Mind you, apart from the odd chuckle you get the impression that he is hardly impressed by his younger self. Included in his utterances is lost love. Then he decides to put voice to tape again, only now he can’t find anything of interest to say. One presumes his life has taken a downturn from which he won’t recover.

Gillies plays opposite his vocal self on tape with distinction. His facial expressions are as critical as his words. I derived great satisfaction in the silences (he doesn’t say anything for several minutes during the set up) and from the sound effects.

Some will undoubtedly find Krapp’s Last Tape slow going. I regard it as an insight into a man full of regret and loathing. Gillies inhabits this dried up figure.

Director Laurence Strangio has the perfect setting for Krapp’s dingy den in the bowels of 45 Flinders Lane in Melbourne, where this production is on until 14 July 2019.

Alex First

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