Krapp’s Last Tape: the reel thing

This is a guest review by David Johnston *

Krapp (Linden Banks) unspools a smart performance in Seven Tyrants Theatre’s production. (Photo: Seven Tyrants Theatre)

It’s as frustrating as hell. Except that’s a feature, not a bug.

Honestly, I think most Samuel Beckett scripts, if done right, are going to occasionally frustrate the hell out of audiences. The Irish modernist combines absurdism and monotony to create singular dramatic cocktails. Seven Tyrants Theatre has unearthed one of his works for the season opener at their new Tyrant Studios.

We meet Krapp (Linden Banks) in a spotlit room with a desk and a tape recorder. Tonight he will both listen to an audio tape of himself from 30 years prior, and record a new tape. Neither of these will go off without a hitch. Sounds like a good dramatic structure, right? It is. [Read more…]

Why did Topdog/Underdog win a Pulitzer? This production isn’t telling.

Playwright Suzanne Lori Parks is a big deal—but why?

In Topdog/Underdog, an African American man makes a living doing whiteface as Abraham Lincoln—and getting shot.

I don’t know if I’ve really seen this play yet. Topdog/Underdog won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Its author, Suzan-Lori Parks, is considered by many to be an important voice in American theatre. But, in this production from Seven Tyrants Theatre, Topdog/Underdog is boring and the script looks awkward.

There are several possible explanations for this disjuncture. One is that the play just isn’t very good. All sorts of mediocre scripts have won Pulitzer Prizes. I’m lookin’ at you, The Heidi Chronicles and Talley’s Folly. [Read more…]

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