KRAPP'S LAST TAPE, by Samuel Beckett, directed by Graham Cozzubbo, with John Neville. Presented by Soulpepper Theatre and Harbourfront Centre at the du Maurier Theatre Centre (231 Queen's Quay West). Opens Tuesday (June 20) and runs to June 23, Tuesday-Friday 8 pm, Wednesday matinee 2 pm. $22-$30. 973-4000. Rating: NNNN
Yuk it up with Beckett
Anyone who doubts the comedy inherent in Samuel Beckett's stage pieces should see Krapp's Last Tape, Beckett's famous duet for actor and tape recorder, featuring the superb John Neville.
Neville invests the reminiscing Krapp -- he plays back memories of a past love on the recorder -- with a masterful blend of humour and pathos. The performance, which makes much of heavy sighs, occasional withdrawals to a back room for a drink and rounded reactions to the words taped decades earlier, is near perfect under Graham Cozzubbo's direction.
The production is flavoured with small vaudevillian turns, including a banana-peel tumble, that seem totally logical in this world of a man left drained and saddened by his visit to the past. In his nuanced character work, Neville explores the loss of life's possibilities and inches by the final curtain to the brink of ineffable tragedy. We know it's a scenario that Krapp will replay again and again.