“Krapp’s Last Tape” -- Long Wharf Theatre New Haven
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
Playwright Samuel Beckett and Actor Brian Dennehy are magic names that draw large theatre crowds -- as was the case when we attended Long Wharf’s Stage II on December 7th. “Krapp’s Last Tape” is a semi-biographical monologue about ageing and regrets is rendered by this fine actor who was directed by Jennifer Tarver.
If this play was written by an unknown playwright, we wonder if it would have gotten so much attention because unlike “Waiting for Godot” or “Happy Days,” this is essentially a study of one man’s reflections on his disappointments and pending death. It also gives actors of a certain age an exercise in interpreting this morbid, subject matter.
There is hardly any action except for the playing with bananas, comments and grunts regarding the playing of a tape, and going periodically to another room for what may be either a drink or a toilet break, and the utterance of great relief shortly afterwards. The bananas perhaps symbolize the elderly mind being reduced to a monkey’s size -- or the person being reduced to this particular food due to either bad teeth or a stomach ailment. The periodic “going” business in the adjoining room appears to be a pun on the character’s name -- “Krapp” only spelled with a “C.” Is that what life is all about?
Mr. Dennehy, is a fine actor whose role in “Death of a Salesman” and many other fine plays is memorable. In this short piece, lasting only one hour, he is certainly mesmerizing as well. At the very beginning, the actor simply stares at the audience for several long minutes -- making folks eventually feel uncomfortable. Other times, he drools with delight over certain words.
Sometimes, this monologue is paired with another work to make the evening more worthwhile. Speaking of symbolism, upon leaving the theatre one woman was overhead asking, “Bill, how much did we pay for these tickets?
Plays until December 18
This review appears in “On CT and NY Theatre”/December 2011.