Krapp’s Last Tape

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

23/09/2010 - 10/10/2010

Production Details

Mirror Theatre Productions presents a Theatre Corporate revival production of Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett 

Krapp’s Last Tape is one of Samuel Beckett’s most affecting works and depicts a world weary, old man listening to audiotapes he made as an eager, innocent, younger man.

Thanks to the Auckland City Archives we are able to use original voice recordings of Edward Newborn from the 1985 Theatre Corporate production for this 2010 revival. “Having Edward listen to his own voice recorded 25 years earlier gives this production a rare authenticity and to the best of my knowledge is a world first,” says director Paul Gittins.

We would like to acknowledge the kind support of Arts Alive in helping make this unique revival part of Auckland Heritage Festival. 

The Basement Studio
Thursday, 23 September – Sunday, 10 October 2010 
Thurs, Fri, Sat @ 6:30pm
Sun @ 4:00 pm & 6:30 pm
Tickets $15 Adult, $12 concession
Bookings @ iTICKETEXPRESS (fees may apply).
Door sales prior to performance.

Glint of hope in austere jewel

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 27th Sep 2010

Much to savour in bleak battle between youthful hope and aged resignation  

It is not unusual for four or five years to slip by without a single professional production of Beckett – but suddenly his work is everywhere.

In July, there was the Ian McKellen production of Waiting for Godot that set the Wellington theatre world alight. More recently, Robyn Malcolm delivered a star turn in Happy Days, and now at the Basement’s intimate studio theatre we have Krapp’s Last Tape.

It may be serendipity, or perhaps the bursting of the financial bubble has made us more appreciative of Beckett’s bleak brilliance. Whatever the case, we can be grateful for a superb piece of theatre which packs more punch into its 40 minutes than plays three times the length. [More]


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Another classic Beckett dealing with physical and psychological ageing and the inevitably solitary nature of our transient existence

Review by Nik Smythe 24th Sep 2010

An old man sits in a derelict study, at an old desk upon which rests an old reel-to-reel playback tape recorder. He sighs like an old man with nothing else to do but sigh. He’s a poor elderly intellectual, nose just slightly rosy, his pallid complexion suggesting he hasn’t been out much lately. 

Edward Newborn’s Krapp sits blank, exuding resignation, a numbness found at the other end of mental suffering.   He’s no-one anyone would wish to be, a clownish old curmudgeon ‘celebrating’ his 69th birthday all by himself with a banana or two and a few belts of the hard stuff. 

There’s a visceral loneliness beyond desperation apparent in many of Beckett’s works – certainly in Krapp’s Last Tape and last month’s rich cousin Happy Days, which also addresses issues around physical and psychological ageing and the inevitably solitary nature of our transient existence. But that piece, like his most famous plays Waiting For Godot and Endgame, illustrates our inevitable solitude by means of dysfunctional interaction between more than one person. 

Grumbling about alone, taking some eccentric pleasure as he does in odd thoughts and the sounds of words, Mr Krapp is well past failing to function with other people; with his handy instrument of sound recording technology the old man is able to construct a dysfunctional relationship with his own middle-aged self. 

Directed by Paul Gittins, Newborn offers a crisp, distilled picture of withered gloom. Within the brief duration of the play we get a real sense of the virtual eternity that this tragic old bugger has lived like this, wallowing in his insignificance. This may be in part because it is in fact a revival production, originally directed by Gittins and performed by Newborn twenty-five years ago at the venerated Theatre Corporate.* 

They even managed to retrieve the original tapes recorded back then, which will be why his voice sounds so authentically young and the tape quality is so authentically deteriorated. That means they’re almost as old as they are meant to be in the play (thirty years) – talk about method! 

To add to its historic status, this is the debut production in the Basement’s new studio venue, a cute little half-pint version of the modestly sized main theatre. A prestigious beginning for a space ideally suited to edgy, experimental fringe type offerings.
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*I only discovered this afterwards – having looked forward to seeing it again since my father took me to see a collection of Beckett works at Galatos Street in the mid-eighties, it turned out it was the same production! …The weird thing is my hazy memory of old Krapp is an older man than the one I saw tonight. I suppose someone in their thirties seems much older to a fourteen year old than an old man seems to someone pushing forty. Or something. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


nik smythe September 26th, 2010

Hey you're right!  Steed was McNee not Magee!  ...My confusion extends from the programme, which also claims Magee went on to play Steed.  So that's why its so hard to imagine!

John Smythe September 25th, 2010

Hey Nik, I fear you have confused Magee (Krapp) with Macnee (Steed): two very different actors.

nik smythe September 24th, 2010

Wow!  And he would've been old enough to have potentially seen Patrick Magee whom Beckett originally wrote it for, to perform it in 1958!  Imagine, a Magee younger than John Steed playing Krapp!  I simply can't.

Michael Smythe September 24th, 2010

Nik - I would have taken you to Krapp's Last Tape at Theatre Coporate on the strength of having experienced (young) Martyn Sanderson's wonderful Krapp performance at Downstage about twenty years earlier - it was one of the plays that positioned Downstage, and Martyn, as a leading player. Nice to be reminded how inter-generational arts experiences reveberate!

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