Theater Review: Krapp’s Last Tape

By Samuel Beckett, Adapted and directed by Rina Yerushalmi; Itim Theater Ensemble, May 10.

Theater 370 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Theater 370
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
If you’re a Beckett fan, do yourself a favor. Go see Doron Tavori perform Krapp’s Last Tape. I have to restrain the instinct to blither superlatives, because Tavori as Krapp is that amazing.
When we meet him it’s Krapp’s 69th birthday and he’s about to record the annual birthday tape. He’s a failed writer who has also deliberately so frittered his emotions that only husks remain. The piece is called Krapp’s Last Tape because we get the idea that there’ll be nothing after this one.
Watching Tavori, iconic images come to mind, in my case those of the unreconstructed Scrooge, Münch’s Scream, ghetto walls. There’s also the feeling that for many years now, since that one birthday 30 years ago, this incarnation of Krapp has hauled out this particular tape, and that every year he’s gone through the same ritual, in the same order, changing nothing except, perhaps, the amount he drinks, and that year by year, as he grows older, to the 69-year-old Krapp, the 39-year-old becomes less comprehensible.
Even as he listens and then, re-hearing, wildly fantasizes, the man he was recedes and the man he is eludes him.
Personality and identity are skittish, says the play.
Beckett’s precise stage directions are intrinsic to his plays’ movement and meaning.
Yerushalmi here uses every one of them, but she’s fleshed their bare bones, introduced tiny variations that augment the shape and content of what occurs.
Tavori and Yerushalmi, the two of them offer us such richness.