Imagine the most perfect set ever for a show – one that looks exactly like the pen-and-wash designs, the edges sharp and perfect, the lighting crisply just-so on exactly every spot it needs to be.
Imagine a performance that mirrors this, each movement rigidly controlled, the actor’s facial expressions produced as if from the one perfect take of a cinematic thirty. His clothes utterly match the set, his face a series of whites, blacks and grays, his socks the one spot of color on all of the set (aside from the incongruous appearance of a banana).
We are meant to be watching a clown, a Chaplin, the stripped down bones of the art of drama all squeezed out for the perfection of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, a classic deserving of the finest of treatment, the audience there to worship together at this church.
In front of me, lovers necked through the extremely long (and aurally painful) unspoken moments, and at the end a booer seemed like Judas taking his fistful of silver coins; as if saying, “That is not it, at all.” He was practically strung up from a tree for his heresy.
At home, I read a Facebook post from a friend, saying, ” ‘Thank you for seeing me,’ mumbled the elderly street clown as I took his hand to thank him for making me laugh,” and I thought, that was how that play should have made me felt. Life ends in death and we all have regrets. I do not need to go to the church of Beckett, led by the high priest Wilson, to have that realization. Instead, I should seek laughter and express gratitude for those who do make our limited time joyful. I saw something really beautiful and stripped of all ability to create any sense of shared humanity tonight. Tomorrow, I think I’ll step away from perfection and prayer and go for some sweat and dirt at the circus.
(This review is for a performance that took place on June 19th, 2015, and marks my official last Beckett play ever. Unlike Krapp, I believe in learning from my mistakes.)