Krapp’s Last Tape

On Wednesday night, I saw Krapp’s Last Tape at the Gate. It was a strange show because it was so short (only an hour long) and Beckett is just a bit odd in general. I’m never sure if I like Beckett. I’m not really a fan of post-modernism but sometimes his language is so evocative and beautiful that it makes me think I get it. I don’t find him an easy playwright to love.

Krapp’s Last Tape is about a man, called Krapp, who records his thoughts (nice, old-fashioned spools of tape) every year on his birthday. He also really likes bananas. The play is set on the night of his 79th (ish) birthday. He listens to a tape from his 39th birthday, which also seems to be a birthday tradition – listening to the ramblings of his younger self, and then insulting them – and then makes his new tape. And that’s the play.

It’s full of interesting ideas – the tradition of recording your thoughts on your birthday, the idea that your younger self as someone to be despised, the endless making of resolutions that are never followed through on (something I’m definitely guilty of) – but it’s also about this one man, who loves bananas but seems to have lost everything else he loved.

Beckett asks a lot from his actors. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the actor is Michael Gambon and more than up for the challenge. His performance was superb. His Krapp was grumpy and fed up of life but there were still comedic moments. And moments of heartbreak. He was so old and feeble you couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. (My mum was relieved when Michael Gambon bounded enthusiastically onstage for his bow at the end. She had been worried about him.)

It was a nice little play but to me, it felt too short. I would have liked to hear more from Krapp. I wanted to know more about him and what had happened in his long life to bring him to this point in time.

I enjoyed the play but I did think it was a little over-priced for such a short show. We went on the Wednesday when tickets were “only” €25. Tickets for Friday and Saturday night shows are €35. The cost is my main problem with shows at the Gate but I have others! It’s probably my least favourite theatre in Dublin. For some reason, whenever I go there, at some point throughout the performance I will become very aware that I’m in a theatre, watching people pretend. I have no idea why but it just doesn’t seem to be able to sustain the theatrical magic for me.

For me, Krapp’s Last Tape was a nice little play, but not a must-see by a long shot.

Theatre plans

I have lots of theatre to look forward to over the next few days. This evening I am going to see Krapp’s Last Tape with Michael Gambon in The Gate, Thursday and Friday I will be at the Project for another run of Project Brand New and then I’m going to Drogheda at the weekend for the Drogheda Arts Festival. I should have a few reviews up over the next few days.

The Vagina Monologues

Last month, I had the immense pleasure of being involved with V-Day for the second time. The first was when I was still studying at Brunel University when I organised a production of The Vagina Monologues with a couple of friends. It was incredibly hard work, especially since I was in third year and trying to do my dissertation at the same time, but we had such a wonderful response from the people who saw it and we raised money for two local women’s charities and it was a wonderful experience.

V-Day is a global movement that works to stop violence against women, by raising awareness and funds. It was set up by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues and each year, the rights of the play are offered free to college and community theatre groups. Each group can do three nights of the show and all money raised goes to charities that help stop violence against women.

I was thinking about putting on my own Dublin production when I saw the audition notice on Crooked House last November. I was delighted when I got a part in the show. We had our first read-through last December and it was great to hear the monologues again, but so odd to hear them read by different actresses.

I love The Vagina Monologue script. Each monologues are powerful and beautifully written but as well as that, the whole show hangs together so well. When I’m sitting on stage, the whole show seems to fly by because each monologue leads fluidly into the next and before you know it, we in the last ten minutes of the show. There’s a wonderful balance of comedy and tragedy in the script.

This year’s production was not without mishap and complication. The show’s organisers had a lot of trouble finding a venue. It was supposed to happen in Ranalagh but there wasn’t any suitable venue available there, the next place that came up were looking for too much money, which we just didn’t have. Then we found somewhere perfect for the nights we needed, but they lost their theatre license and closed down a week before the show was due to open. And finally we found the Exchange in Temple Bar. They asked for a deposit and 10% of the ticket sales, and in return we got a lovely intimate space with a stage just big enough for 14 women to squeeze onto.

We filled the space on all three nights we were there, with male and female audience members (though mainly female!) and they all enjoyed the show very much. At least they seemed to be enjoying it from where I was sitting!

As well as putting on a great show, we also raised almost €1,500 for charity. Ten percent went to the V-Day spotlight charity which this year was the City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the rest of the money raised went to Ruhama, a Dublin charity that supports women working in the sex industry. They are a very hands on charity.

The City of Joy is a place of refuge for the women and girls of the DCR who have been abused physically and sexually as part of the war in that part of the world. It is a horrendous conflict that has been going on for far too long. If you would like to find out more, there are lots of details on the V-Day website and here is an article from the Guardian by Eve Ensler.

All in all, it was once again a wonderful experience and I definitely plan on begin involved in some sort of V-Day event again next year.

David Hare article in the Guardian

“Art frequently reminds us that things are never quite as simple as they seem. Nor are people. Journalism is life with the mystery taken out. Art is life with the mystery restored.”

In the Guardian yesterday, David Hare argues why good theatre should never be confused with journalism. The article is about about verbatim theatre and the power of theatre to capture a moment in time. He also writes about creating great theatre in general.

I like this;
“Style was the only means by which you could suggest that what you were writing about was something more than what you appeared to be writing about. Without style there was no suggestiveness, and with no suggestiveness, no metaphor. The processes of art could begin nowhere else.”

Who is Fergal Kilpatrick?

Who is Fergal Kilpatrick? is on in the Project this week. You should go and see it; it’s a very interesting show. I saw it during the Fringe Festival and although I wasn’t blown away by it, I did find it a very interesting hour of theatre.

I think my problem with the show was that it didn’t engage me emotionally. It was very intellectually engaging and it did make me think, even after I left the theatre, but I didn’t feel anything for the characters.

Still a show worth going to see.