Director Paul Brotherston’s version of this Samuel Beckett classic has so much riding on it- how to find ways to ensure the play is still relevant; how to bring a new spirit to an old favourite. Thankfully, he succeeds, by only throwing in a few curveballs. The rest is left to the wonderful Gerry Mulgrew, whose whitened face makes him resemble a Bouffon Bernard Cribbins.
Twinkly, or drenched in wretched sadness, Krapp, the auld fella himself, listens back to his younger self on his 69th birthday, mocking his pretensions and poetic use of language (which he looks up in a battered old dictionary). His banana skin throwing is pretty impressive, and use of the word ‘spoooooooooool‘, which he savours on his tongue, as with the bendy fruit.
This was of course a nod by Beckett to silent movie slapstick, as he was a huge fan of Keaton and Chaplin, but above all, the absurdity and throwaway nature of human life- tragedy and comedy writ large. As Krapp gets progressively more drunk (all suggested by the uncorking, glugging and glugging again from behind the curtain) he wheezily laments the fool he had been , and the missed opportunities around ladies, but also celebrates when he had ‘the fire in me’. We may all just become faded parodies of ourselves- best throw banana peel at any fleeting notions of grandeur.
Mulgrew brings pathos and vulnerability to the role, and roaring humour- plus a fetching pair of – what else- yellow socks. Brotherston’s timing is just right on the (pink) nose. Somewhere, Beckett is grinning.
At Tron Theatre until November 8th