Looking back at our younger selves is always interesting, and can conjure all kinds of emotions. A lot of times, we may think, “What was I thinking?”. Seven Tyrants Theatre’s production of Samuel Beckett’s play, Krapp’s Last Tape, explores the mixed emotions we have when reflecting on the past, and how we may often think, “I wish I could tell my younger self what I know now – and maybe give them a shake as well”.
The show takes us into the world of 69-year-old Krapp, who listens to a diary recording he made when he was 39. Throughout the next hour, we see Krapp react to the narrative of his younger self, who speaks about the romantic encounters he’s had, his career frustrations, the death of his mother, how foolish he was in his 20’s – and how he’s glad those days are behind him.
Of course, seeing how this is Beckett’s work, the play is told in an absurd style. Krapp, played by Linden Banks, continually takes pleasure in saying the word “spool”. He also eats bananas onstage in a very odd way, and sometimes goes off stage, where we hear him clamouring around, presumably fixing himself a drink, before stumbling back onstage.
Other absurd actions in the play include a section at the beginning where Krapp unlocks different drawers in his desk to reveal a tape (not the one he eventually listens to), and a banana. Beckett’s characters always behave strangely, and as an audience member, you’re often wondering if there’s a deeper meaning behind some of these oddities, or if Beckett is just trying to f*ck with you. It always makes for an interesting viewing experience.
Near the end of the play, Krapp begins to record a tape, and since the play is titled Krapp’s Last Tape, we’re led to believe this will be his final recording. Or is it? The word “last” could also mean the most recent. This adds even more analysis to the viewing experience of this play. What if Krapp lives for another two or three decades, and then listens to the tape he made when he was 69? What would that play out as?
The messaging in this play is pretty clear. Krapp clearly has regrets about choices he made in his life, and if he could do it all over again, I’m sure he would want to do things differently. At the end of the show, Krapp hears his younger self talking about how he feels the best years of his life are behind him. Krapp’s reaction to hearing this is pretty clear – he actually had many more years of life to enjoy and he wishes he had a different mentality when he was 39.
Banks is wonderful as Krapp. He has the absurd style of Beckett down pat and does a fine job of engaging the audience throughout the entire one-act play. The bare bones atmosphere, consisting of director David Thomas Newham’s simple set of a desk with tapes and the audio device to play them, an overhead light, along with the show’s venue – a studio theatre overtop of The Penthouse on Seymour Street, is appropriate for the show. It’s minimal, and it’s a little strange. So, it works for this show. Newham has definitely nailed the presentation aspects of this show.
I personally find Seven Tyrants Theatre’s production of Krapp’s Last Tape, very interesting and relevant. We can all use a good wake-up call now and then to remind ourselves to enjoy every day and live life to the fullest. Equally important, we should never give up on life because we think the best years of our lives are over – we never know what’s around the corner and how much more life there is to enjoy and use to make our dreams come true.
Seven Tyrants Theatre’s production of Krapp’s Last Tape runs until October 26 at the Tyrant Studios. For more information, visit Seven Tyrant Theatre’s website.