Michael Gambon as Krapp
Where: West End
22 September 2010 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Lovely to see Michael Gambon, of course, but this Krapp’s Last Tape, which comes from the Gate Theatre in Dublin, seems both too long and too short, padded out with extra business to last an underwhelming fifty minutes; insufficient bang for your £30 buck.
Evening performances start at 7pm and 8.15pm. But as, on opening night, the late-starting 7pm show came out at 8.15pm, this looks like a planning disaster. How can two audiences come and go, and the stage be re-set, in 20 minutes at most; and it’s a very cramped theatre. And the programme contains a detailed analysis and assessment of the “plot”!
Before speaking, Gambon adds a play and a half beyond the stage directions: slumped at his desk, he reluctantly unbends, then corkscrews round in slow motion to look up into the single light. He jumps at an imagined noise. He steps in and out of the stage light, playfully, as if pretending he knows he’s in a theatre. On peeling the second banana, he throws it away and holds the skin (good gag). Retrieving the banana, he holds it in front of him like a dummy penis (bad gag).
None of this Beckett wrote. When the words come, haltingly, Gambon strays in and out of an Irish accent, uncomfortably. But that great sagging jowly face does the work of painful reminiscence like no-one else, staring stricken and aghast at the sound of his own voice, 30 years ago, as he spools through lost love, lost mother, lost youth, on the dilapidated old Grundig.
His explosions of violent rage are truly frightening, and the repetition of the beautiful passage of “my face in her breasts” worth half the entrance fee. But the lighting’s all wrong, and the pace of
Michael Colgan’s direction indulgent and uncontrolled.
It pains me to say this, as I revere Gambon, Colgan and the Gate. But this ain’t good enough, and certainly no challenge to the greatest Krapps I’ve seen: those of
Max Wall, John Hurt and, of course, Harold Pinter, the latter a smart swipe of valedictory wrapping up, with life literally ebbing away as we watched. - by Michael Coveney Related Content
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
: The economic impact of Arts & Culture in the UK Infographic When Culture Secretary Maria Miller called for the arts to make their "economic case" for subsidy, t... Plays Cast: Harry Potter star in Southwark Moment, more for Branagh's Macbeth Bonnie Wright, best known for playing Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, will make her stage d... Brief Encounter with ... The Kite Runner's Ben Turner Ben Turner stars in the stage version of the bestselling book The Kite Runner, which runs at Liverpo... Titus Andronicus (RSC) This latest production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, to borrow from football punditry, is a p... : Britain's outdoor theatres Take Five With half-term approaching, the weather (hopefully) set to improve for the bank holiday weekend and ... West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar... : 'I carry the ghost of Gregory Peck on my shoulders' Robert Sean Leonard Actor Robert Sean Leonard is currently playing Atticus Finch in Timothy Sheader's production of To K... To Kill A Mockingbird Twenty years ago, a young Robert Sean Leonard appeared on the London stage with Alan Alda in... X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p...