Monday, December 5, 2011


How many of us use our birthdays to evaluate the past, contemplate the present and anticipate the future?  Now at the advancing age of 69, Krapp, a disheveled loner with failing eyesight and faded dreams, sits down for his annual ritual of recording a tape analyzing and cataloguing his past year and you’re invited to the ceremony.

Long Wharf Theatre’s Stage II will be the platform, until Sunday, December 18, for Samuel Beckett’s monologue masquerading as a play, “Krapp’s Last Tape.”  The incomparable Brian Dennehy stars as the man caught in the shadows, between darkness and light, trying to find his way.

Krapp’s pleasures are small:  savoring a ripe banana, taking a fortifying alcoholic drink for courage, looking up an unknown entity in Mr. Webster’s dictionary, verbally caressing the sensual word “spool.”

On this occasion, as he sits under a single bulbed light, at a desk with decorative metal tins filled with tapes of his past, he delays the inevitable, the moment when he must speak aloud and face his fears.  As a delaying tactic, he uses his banana peels as a means for a prat fall and dusts off his journal that records each session.  Eventually he can procrastinate no longer and must face the post mortem that details his life.

Selecting a previous year, three decades ago, specifically box three, spool five, he relives the death of his mother and the end of an affair, a love relationship that might have brought him happiness if he had allowed it.  A writer who has known very little success, he criticizes and denigrates his ambitions and the public who rejected him.

He admits to himself that thirty years ago he had everything and he let it all go.  What future does a man have who allowed disappointments to replace dreams? Jennifer Tarver directs this hour long exploration of one man’s fractured soul.

For tickets ($70), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at,  Performances are  Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

A second installment of Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting’s enthusiastic audience participation program “Spark” will center on Long Wharf’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” set in 1969.  Soldiers returning home from war and the nurses who tend them will be the focus, according to Ting, “reimagining classics in an effort to inject new perspective into dramas that have a long history of production.”

The four 90 minute events will include:  First Rehearsal, Monday, December 19 at 7 p.m., The Body and Text: Interpreting Shakespeare for the Stage, Monday, January 9 at 7 p.m., Technical Rehearsal, Saturday, January 14, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Adapting to the Moment, Monday, January 30, 7 p.m. about the challenges of the production.  For tickets ($50) to the series, call 203-787-4282 or go online to  “Macbeth 1969” will be presented January 18-February 12 on the Mainstage.  The fee will support the theater’s efforts to create new plays and support emerging playwrights.

Watch Brian Dennehy, who says of this play “It’s probably the greatest play I’ve ever been involved with and I’ve done a lot of great plays” and discover for yourself if you agree.

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