Samuel Beckett @ The Old Fitz

Rebecca Varidel
5th Nov 2019

"I realized that Joyce had gone as far as one could in the direction of knowing more, [being] in control of one's material. He was always adding to it; you only have to look at his proofs to see that. I realized that my own way was in impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and in taking away, in subtracting rather than in adding."

There was a point where 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Samuel Beckett would change the focus of his work to poverty, failure, exile and loss – as he put it, on man as a 'non-knower'. The revelation "has rightly been regarded as a pivotal moment in his entire career". Beckett fictionalised the experience in his play in 1958 in Krapp's Last Tape (1958).

The play is considered to be Beckett at his most autobiographical and draws heavily on biographical detail. With a cast of one man, it was written for Northern Irish actor Patrick Magee and first titled "Magee monologue". Throughout the years, the one act one-man play has had many noteable performances since Magee, including Harold Pinter and John Hurt. In 1996, the Gate Theatre visited the Lincoln Center in New York where David Kelly performed ‘Krapp’ receiving standing ovations at every performance. Kelly had first performed the play in Dublin in 1959 and the original recordings of his ‘young self’ were discovered. These were painstakingly remastered by Noel Storey at Beacon studios in Dublin to be used on stage. It is believed to be the only time that real 30 year old recordings have been used.

Krapp's Last Tape @ The Old Fitz

The curtain rises on a late evening in the future. It is Krapp’s 69th birthday and he hauls out his old tape recorder, reviews one of the earlier years – the recording he made when he was 39 – and makes a new recording commenting on the last 12 months.

To close their highly successful and diverse 2019 season at the Old Fitz Theatre, Red Line Productions presents a Samuel Beckett classic, Krapp’s Last Tape, playing from 26 November to 14 December. Internationally acclaimed director Gale Edwards directs the extraordinary Jonathan Biggins in Beckett’s glorious dance between performer and tape recorder.

Jonathan Biggins is an actor, writer and director with a wide and varied stage career. Best known as one of the creators of the Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue, his acting credits also include performances with Opera Australia, Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company. Jonathan recently performed in No Cabaret For Old Men for Sydney Cabaret Festival and concluded this year’s tour of his new one-man theatrical biography of Paul Keating, The Gospel According to Paul.

The production is designed by Sydney Theatre Award Lifetime Achievement Award winner Brian Thomson AM. Director Gale Edwards, Jonathan Biggins, and Brian Thomson - are all making their Red Line Productions debut.

Photo of John Hurt as Krapp