The Perfect Combo by Kelly Kabialis
Entering 2010 is Hughie and Krapp’s Last Tape this combo is show of the season and I bet when you first saw the ad you probably wondered why the Goodman was presenting two different one-act plays from two very different playwrights. Upon closer examination, they have a number of similarities. They share not only the same stage set and lead actor but, also the same themes of despair, loneliness, and regret over missed opportunities. All of these factors combine for a very thought-provoking evening.
Both characters hold up a mirror not only to reflect their lives, but the lives of the audience. Their reflections reveal their distinct personalities. Erie Smith looks back on his life by recalling how he shared stories with Hughie, the old desk clerk. Mr. Krapp on the other hand, has taped passages from his life and listens to them even though he becomes more and more depressed.
Brian Dennehy’s transformation from the lively, energetic Erie Smith, who bounds across the stage, to the almost lifeless Mr. Krapp, a man tethered to his desk who only ventures out to the hallway for a drink or to grab a locked-up banana, is remarkable. Brian Dennehy’s phenomenal physical portrayal of the characters drives the action. While many plays deal with the pains of life and aging, I don’t know of any performance that tackles the issues as adeptly as Hughie and Krapp’s Last Tape. Just when we thought that Mr. Dennehy was born to be Erie Smith, he suddenly transforms into Mr. Krapp. Yet the despair remains, inextricably binding the two characters.
While watching these characters relive their lives, I couldn’t help but contemplate my own future. This increased my conviction to never become a person who is wrapped in the past. The combination of Hughie and Krapp’s Last Tape is theatre at its best: causing the audience to experience strong emotions, and think in a new way. This production should not be missed.