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Krapp's Last Tape (Studio Theatre)

Sheffield Theatres' production of Beckett's renowned play is more for the aficionados than the uninitiated

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Everything about Polly Findlay's production of Samuel Beckett's renowned play Krapp's Last Tape is meaningful and stylish. Alex Lowde's set - half shed, half cage - provides a fitting metaphor for Krapp's isolation; Dan Jones's sound design is simultaneously striking and unobtrusive; and Richard Wilson's rich tones and shambling presence are perfectly suited to Beckett's elusive character.

Richard Wilson in Krapp's Last Tape at the Studio Theatre Sheffield.
© Mark Douet

Yet, unfortunately, the experience of the production as a whole fails to be greater than the sum of these considerable parts. Wilson, it appears, had initial misgivings about being shut off from the audience in Lowde's cage-like shed; his actor's, and perhaps director's, instinct proving right, as the result robs him of his potential to really connect with the audience.

This is not an inexplicable theatrical decision; the production ensures its audience experience an alienation and disconnect, perfectly in keeping with Beckett's text. But arguably, when a text is as obtuse as this, an audience does need something more than it is given here.

You certainly can't fault Sheffield Theatres nerve: this is a production far more likely to intrigue Beckett aficionados, than draw in the unfamiliar.

Krapp's Last Tape continues at the Studio Theatre Sheffield until 19th July 2014.

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