Krapp's Last Tape

Play by Samuel Beckett. "Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn't want them back..." Every year on his birthday Krapp sits down to record his memories from the past year. On his 69th birthday listening to his old recordings Krapp stumbles upon a single tender memory from long ago. Recalling his past loves, disappointments and fascinations Krapp starts to question whether his present lives up to his past.

Original London Production 1958 with Patrick Magee

Original West End London Production (German) 1971 with Martin Held

London Revival 1973 with Albert Finney

London Revival 1975 with Max Wall

London Revival 1978 / 1980 with Rick Cluckey

London Revival 1986 with Max Wall

London Revival 1990 with David Warrilow

London Revival 1998 / 1999 with Edward Petherbridge

West End London Revival 1999 / 2000 / 2006 with John Hurt

London Revival 2006 with Harold Pinter

West End London Revival 2010 with Michael Gambon

London Revival 2015 with Robert Wilson

Samuel Becket's other plays seen in London include Beckett Trilogy (Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby), Eh Joe, Endgame, No's Knife, and Waiting for Godot.


Original London Production 1958 with Patrick Magee

Opened 28 October 1958, Closed 29 November 1958 at the Royal Court Theatre

Performed as a double-bill with Samuel Beckett's Endgame.

The cast featured Patrick Magee as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Donald McWhinnie.


Original West End London Production (German) 1971 with Martin Held

Opened 29 April 1971, Closed 1 May 1971 at the Aldwych Theatre

Performed in German, in a translation by Erika and Elmer Tophoven, as a double-bill with Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape.

The cast featured Martin Held as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Samuel Beckett with designs by Mathias.

Performed by the Schiller Theatre of West Berlin and presented as part of the Annual Peter Daubeny World Theatre Season.


London Revival 1973 with Albert Finney

Previewed 11 January 1973, Opened 16 January 1973, Closed 17 February 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre

Performed as a double-bill with Samuel Beckett's Not I.

The cast featured Albert Finney as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Anthony Page with designs by Jocelyn Herbert.


London Revival 1975 with Max Wall

Previewed 2 December 1975, Opened 3 December 1975, Closed 20 December 1975 (in repertory) at the Greenwich Theatre
Returned 5 January 1986, Closed 17 January 1976 at the Greenwich Theatre

Performed as a double bill with John Hale's In Memory of ... Carmen Miranda.

The cast featured Max Wall as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Patrick Magee.


London Revival 1978 / 1980 with Rick Cluckey

Previewed 17 October 1978, Opened 18 October 1978, Closed 28 October 1978 at the Open Space (now demolished)
Returned 7 November 1978, Closed 26 November 1978 at the Open Space (no demolished)
Returned 29 July 1980, Closed 9 August 1980 at the Young Vic Theatre
Transferred 12 August 1980, Closed 24 August 1980 at the Arts Theatre
Returned 1 September 1980, Closed 2 September 1980 at the Young Vic Theatre

Performed as a double-bill with Samuel Beckett's Endgame.

The cast featured Rick Cluckey as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Samuel Beckett.

Presented by the San Quentin Drama Workshop.

The Open Space was a central London fringe theatre, seating around 130, that was located at 303-307 Euston Road, in a former Post Office.


London Revival 1986 with Max Wall

Previewed 5 June 1986, Opened 10 June 1986, Closed 6 July 1986 at the Riverside Studios

Performed as a double-bill with Samuel Beckett's Endgame.

The cast featured Max Wall as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Ewan Hooper.


London Revival 1990 with David Warrilow

Previewed 8 January 1990, Opened 11 January 1990, Closed 27 January 1990 at the Riverside Studios

Performed as a double-bill with Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe.

The cast featured David Warrilow as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Antoni Libera.

A transfer from the Leicester Haymarket Theatre - previewed from 5 October 1989, opened on 10 October 1989, and closed on 28 October 1989 - with the same cast.


London Revival 1998 / 1999 with Edward Petherbridge

Opened 10 March 1998, Closed 4 April 1998 (in repertory) at the Barbican Pit Theatre
Transferred 5 January 1999, Closed 6 February 1999 at the Arts Theatre

At the Arts Theatre, performed as a double-bill with Samuel Beckett's Breath.

The cast featured Edward Petherbridge as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Edward Petherbridge and David Hunt, with designs by Anthony Rowe, and lighting by Stephen Brady.

Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company.


West End London Revival 1999 / 2000 / 2006 with John Hurt

Previewed 3 September 1999, Opened 4 September 1999, Closed 18 September 1999 (in repertory) at the Barbican Pit Theatre Previewed 25 January 2000, Opened 27 January 2000, Closed 11 March 2000 at the Ambassadors Theatre Previewed 25 April 2006, Opened 26 April 2006, Closed 6 May 2006 at the Barbican Pit Theatre

Robin Lefevre's revival of Samuel Beckett's one-man play Krapp's Last Tape in London starring John Hurt

Originally staged at the Gate Theatre Dublin, and presented as part of the 1999 Barbican International Theatre Event (BITE) 'Beckett Festival', following a season at London's Arts Theatre in the West End, this production now returns as part of the 'Beckett Centenary Festival' at London's Barbican Centre.

The cast features John Hurt as 'Krapp'. Directed by Robin Lefevre with designs by Giles Cadle and lighting by James McConnell.

"The poetic concentration - the play runs for just 45 minutes - is intense, and John Hurt's wonderful voice, which sounds like hony spread with a serrated knife, makes a minimal text sound too little. This performance, already famous, has been seen at the Gate in Dublin and at the Barbican, and now plays the West End for a few weeks, sometimes twice-nightly. Hurt is nowhere near as ramshackle and dilapidated as most Krapps, and certainly not as extravagantly funny as was the great Max Wall long ago. But he has a handsome, haunted, haggard look about him. Good heavens, he even looks like fun-loving old Beckett himself with greying, cockatoo hairstyle, piercing button eyes and aquiline, dignified demeanour... When Hurt fondles the old machine while his rhapsodic voice recounts young love, we are as moved as the couple lay unmoved, and under them, all moved." The Daily Mail

"John Hurt obscenely sucks a banana with an air of such stark disappointment in Krapps Last Tape that you feel he must belong in some tawdry rainswept zoo. This Gate Theatre production from Dublin of Beckett's great 1959 monologue now gets the proper West End outing it deserves. Hurt even looks a bit like Beckett, eyes permanently squinting at his only onstage companion - a tape recorder - from which emanates his own unmistakable, craggy voice. The constipated Krapp, addicted to bananas and alcohol, is desperate for 'laxation'. Worse, he's actually facing death as he spools through his recorded diary of a futile youth. It's a fine performance, gruff, growly and aching with resignation and regret. As for the play - it's a bleakly masochistic experience but somehow bracing. As that other great miserablist Harold Pinter said of Beekett: 'the more he grinds my nose in the s***, the more I am grateful to him.' I feel the same way." The Daily Express

"The brilliance of Hurt's performance lies in his ability to warm the cadences of Beckett's semi-autobiographical monologue, moving through rage, optimism and self-disgust to a species of despondent self-acceptance. At the start Krapp appears like a grubby clown privately toying with his beloved, constipating bananas and amusing himself by pacing about in squeaking boots. But before, during and after this, Hurt works the long brooding silences of Beckett's spartan text, staring into the void as he sounds out both himself and his invisible audience. In Robin Lefevre's sensitively controlled production, Giles Cadle's set eschews the familiar comfort of domestic jumble that might have coloured Krapp's ascetic lair. Instead he is encountered in a sea of darkness simulating his reclusive withdrawal from the world. This focuses sharply not only on Hurt's performance but also on Beckett's fragmented imagery." The London Evening Standard

Krapp's Last Tape in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 25 January 2000, opened on 27 January 2000 and closed on 11 March 2000


London Revival 2006 with Harold Pinter

Previewed 12 October 2006, Opened 14 October 2006, Closed 24 October 2006 at the Royal Court Theatre

The cast featured Harold Pinter as 'Krapp'.

Directed by Ian Rickson with designs by Hildegard Bechtler, and lighting by Paule Constable.


West End London Revival 2010 with Michael Gambon

Previewed 15 September 2010, Opened 22 September 2010, Closed on 20 November 2010 at the Duchess Theatre

A major revival of Samuel Beckett's monologue play Krapp's Last Tape in London starring Michael Gambon

This cast of Krapp's Last Tape in London stars Michael Gambon and is directed by Michael Colgan. This production transfers to London's West End following a critically acclaimed and strictly limited season of 19 performances at the Gate Theatre in Dublin earlier this year.

Michael Gambon's previous West End credits in Samuel Beckett play's include Eh Joe at the Duke of York's Theatre in June 2006 and Endgame at the Noel Coward Theatre in March 2004.

Michael Gambon's London stage credits include the roles of 'Joe' in Atom Egoyan's production of Samuel Beckett's Eh Joe at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2006; 'Davies' in Patrick Marber's revival of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2000; 'Paul Parsky' in Matthew Warchus' production of Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man at the Duchess Theatre in 1998; 'Tom Driberg' in Richard Wilson's production of Stephen Churchett's Tom and Clem at the Aldwych Theatre in 1997; 'Eddie Carbone' in Alan Ayckbourn's revival of Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge at the Aldwych Theatre in 1987; 'Sergeant' in Harold Pinter's production his play Mountain Language at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1988; the title role in Michael Blakemore's revival of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1988; and 'Jerry' in Peter Hall's production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1978.

"Sir Michael Gambon's face has been described as a collapsed paper bag, which is pretty much the case. It's undoubtedly one the most eloquently expressive faces in the business. In Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, it gets a terrific workout... These are 50 spellbinding minutes that capture the experience of an entire life. A matchless performance of a miniature masterpiece." The Mail on Sunday

"It seems, on the face of it, a rather effortless way for the 69-year-old Sir Michael Gambon to return to the stage after ill-health forced him to pull out of The Habit of Art at the National last year. The country's greatest living actor is on for barely an hour, and at least a quarter of that goes by before he has to utter a word... I don't say that this is the easiest piece of theatre to sit through, but there is such a mournful intensity about Sir Michael's Krapp - such a sense of regret in those big, doleful eyes of his, such an air of resignation in his demeanour and such a maturity and pathos to his performance - that I can't fault it." The Sunday Telegraph

Here is a chance to see Michael Gambon in the acclaimed version of Beckett's fractured monologue produced by the Gate Theatre, Dublin. He plays Krapp, an ageing writer inhabiting a solitary den, his sales somewhat down of late... He speaks with a pronounced Irish accent, this relative of Molloy and Malone and all those other Irish tramps and derelicts with their desperate laughter. However, there is little laughter here. Krapp's shuffling about the stage and changing of the spools is challengingly slow, and the occasional nuggets of lyricism seem rarer than ever." The Sunday Times

Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape received its world premiere in October 1958 at the Royal Court Theatre in London, starring the Irish actor Patrick Magee. Although Krapp's Last Tape was last seen in London's West End in October 2006 when it played a strictly limited season of just 10 performances at The Royal Court Theatre Upstairs starring Harold Pinter (as part of the theatre's 50th birthday celebrations), the last major West End revival was in 2000 at The Ambassadors Theatre starring John Hurt in a production which run for seven weeks and which was presented by The Gate Theatre Dublin.

Krapp's Last Tape in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 15 September 2010, opened on 22 September 2010 and closed on 20 November 2010.


London Revival 2015 with Robert Wilson

Opened 19 June 2015, Closed 21 June 2015 at the Barbican Theatre

The cast featured Robert Wilson as 'Krapp'.

Directed and designed by Robert Wilson.