Inside Samuel L Beckett's mind

May 27, 2016, 08:30 IST | Hassan M Kamal

Krapp's Last Tape offers a window into the writing and theatre of playwright Samuel L Beckett

It’s interesting how an idea that came to Samuel L Beckett way back in 1958, could possibly be the prime attraction of most social media platforms. “Take Facebook, Google, Twitter or any other social media platforms, we are constantly using them to record our daily lives, much like what Krapp, the central character in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, does in the play,” says Gagan Dev Riar, who will be staging Krapp’s Last Tape this weekend under the banner, Play on Productions.

(Above and below left) Dhruv Lohumi (front) and Sukant Goel play the younger and older Krapp
(Above and below left) Dhruv Lohumi (front) and Sukant Goel play the younger and older Krapp

The play opens on the 69th birthday of its main character, Krapp, as he listens to his voice recording from when he was 39, giving an account of his life at that time. Krapp has many such recordings, kept in cans, storing his memories of the people he knew, and of various incidents throughout his life. Over the course of the play, Krapp plays different recordings, and at the end, records another tape — a final one.

 Gagan Dev Riar Gagan Dev Riar

Riar has retained the original text, however, he has experimented with its presentation. So, while the original was a monologue, also touted as a sort of autobiography of Beckett, Riar’s version has two actors playing two Krapps — an older one (Sukant Goel) listening to the voice of a younger Krapp (Dhruv Lohumi). The props have also changed (except the chair where an older Krapp is sitting) replacing the tables and other items from the original script with a wooden box. “When I began working on the play, I knew I had to simplify it.

It took us a lot of time to come up with the idea of replacing the recordings and tables with just a box, but it seems very natural now. We always have these boxes in our mind, where we store our memories, right?” says Riar. That’s not the only difference, though. Riar informs that while Beckett’s Krapp has a dry, factual approach to events that hides his actual emotions about an event, his cast has tried to highlight those emotions.

But why retain the original dialogues? “Krapp is a character anyone can relate to. And that happens only because of Beckett’s writing. The way he describes each scene, or the way he portrays a picture, Beackett always had the right choice of words. And we didn’t want to change that,” he adds.

On: May 28, 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm
At: The Hive, 50-A, Huma Mansion, next to Ahmed Bakery, Chuim Village Road, off Union Park, Khar (W).
Tickets Rs 250
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