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Krapp's Last Tape

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

Samuel Beckett's old man Krapp is already sitting there at his wooden table piled with his personal detritus as the audience file in to the Tron's tiny Changing House attic space that lends itself so atmospherically to Beckett's portrait of a lonely soul rummaging through his back pages. Gerry Mulgrew's Krapp peers out, pasty-faced and seemingly already dress-rehearsing the lie of an after-life that can't come too soon. There's a low electric hum in the air, the sound of amplified breathing into a microphone, and is that a disembodied voice keening in the ether?

For the first ten minutes of Paul Brotherston's production, Krapp wordlessly strains himself through the basics of getting by, almost coming a comic cropper as he goes. As he rewinds his collected tape-spools that immortalise his younger self, innocence and experience seem to spar with each other as Krapp attempts to recapture the essence of his old loves.

One of the most astonishing things about Brotherston's production is that no-one has thought of getting Mulgrew to do Beckett before. Here, after all, is an actor who has long been prepared to fly without a safety net as is required here in a performance that lends Beckett's 1958 solo dialogue with himself an intimacy and a poignancy like few others.

This makes for a production that is meticulous in its attention to detail, even as it is shot through with Mulgrew's hunched and haunted fragility as Krapp. Running for only four nights until Saturday, this co-production between the Tron and Blood of the Young artistic director Brotherston lays bare an already quiet masterpiece as an even more close-up elegy to a lost self.

The Herald, October 7th 2016

ends

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