Krapp’s Last Tape, The Duchess Theatre, London’s West End – Review

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Michael Gambon as Krapp

This classic Beckett play opened this week in the West End, following its success and critical acclaim at The Gate Theatre Dublin.

It’s a 50 minute play with one single character, Krapp. Michael Gambon brought this enigmatic character to life before our very eyes. From the humourous to the sad and absurd, he kept us enthralled as we see Krapp listening to the tapes and recording his latest one. It’s an absolutely stunning and gripping performance.

The play itself is strangely beautiful and haunting. To me it felt poetic and Beckett has infused it with exquisite tenderness and power.

“We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side.”

Is a phrase repeated a few times in the play, and has been running through my head since seeing the play. Along with a few other phrases.

The playful Beckett humour is present and even though this is a poignant play, Beckett allows us to laugh at the inherent absudity of Krapp’s and our own existence.

The intimate Duchess Theatre is an ideal venue for the play and the lighting and direction were perfect. There are two stars to this play, Beckett as the writer and Gambon for bringing his text to life in such a compelling way.