Krapp’s Last Tape/Footfalls (4 stars)

Meticulously choreographed and compellingly performed Beckett double bill

Krapp’s Last Tape/Footfalls

Gerard Murphy / Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Dominic Hill’s pairing of two short Beckett plays, rounding off his first season in charge at the Citz, produces a fascinating and powerful portrait of old age, regret and the unreliability of memory. Gerard Murphy gives a nicely understated performance as the old man returning with a mix of derision and despond to the reflections of his 39- and 29-year-old selves. Weariness and gentle humour are to the fore in Murphy’s interactions with the aged reels, in a performance that is all the more sincere and poignant for its subtlety.

In Footfalls, Kathryn Howden, her face concealed behind her hair, is mesmerising as the ghostly May, stalking back and forth in a tattered dress and conducting fragmented conversations with her elderly mother (played, offstage by a frail-voiced Kay Gallie), who may, in fact, already be dead. May’s sharp, rhythmic pacing recalls the tick of a clock or the beat of a metronome marking the slow wait for the end, but it’s the slump of her posture and dispassionate clarity of her delivery that is really haunting, suggesting as it does that May, in her proximity to death, already fully recognises the tragic defeat of life.

The meticulous choreography of both these pieces, allied to the compelling performances and stark lighting design by Lizzie Powell, not to mention the lyrical beauty of the text, casts a spell that can still be felt tingling on the nerve-ends long after the curtain has come down.

Krapp’s Last Tape/Footfalls runs at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 9 Jun.

Audience Responses to Beckett double-bill

Krapp's Last Tape/Footfalls

Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape is a brilliantly sardonic but also moving study of age, nostalgia and self-delusion, while his Footfalls is a haunting portrayal of a woman obsessively revisiting her life. Both are directed here by Dominic Hill.

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