Review “Hughie/Krapp’s Last Tape”: Dennehy Double Header Is a Grand Slam!
Goodman Theatre presents
Written by Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Robert Falls
Krapp’s Last Tape
Written by Samuel Beckett
Directed by Jennifer Tarver
Thru February 28th
Loneliness? Immortality? Krapps is a betting game? Or is it Craps? The Goodman Theatre presents Hughie and Krapp’s Last Tape, two (one act) plays. Whatever the reasons for the amalgamation, one truth is undeniable. Brian Dennehy has selected a perfect combination to showcase his range. A one man show, Dennehy transforms from big talking gambler to mumbling old geezer within a couple hours. The first show, Hughie, written by Eugene O’Neill, is a story about Erie grieving the loss of Hughie. Erie is a middle aged man living in a shabby NYC hotel. Hughie was the night clerk. The second show, Krapp’s Last Tape, written by Samuel Beckett, is a tale of an old man reacting to a recording of his younger self from thirty years ago. Dennehy is the common denominator in both. He plays Erie and then he is full of Krapp.
As Erie, it’s the Dennehy expected. It’s Dennehy’s signature role: bragging salesman type. He doesn’t disappointment. His larger than life presence fills the empty hotel lobby. Although Joe Grifasi (new night clerk) is on stage, he’s more of a primary prop in a one man show. With minimal lines and movement, Grifasi’s dead pan expressions to Dennehy’s animated monologue are hilarious. Later as Krapp, it’s the Dennehy we fear on stage and in our homes. Shuffling, mumbling, demented old guy clinging with regret to the past. It is Erie to hear present day Dennehy’s booming voice on a recording that decrepit Dennehy curses. Under the direction of Jennifer Tarver, Dennehy ages well. Sure, he looks like Krapp but his physical interpretation of being really, really, really old is really, really, really funny!
The juxtaposition between the two plays is fascinating. Hughie is fast paced verbal, Krapp’s a slow paced physical piece. Hughie has an intricate set resembling a hotel lobby. Krapp’s dark stage is set with only an overhead light and desk. Hughie has lively street background noises. Krapp’s is so quiet that you easily hear a bottle being uncorked. Hughie’s Dennehy is slick hair, seersucker suit, and fedora. Krapp’s Dennehy is bushy eyebrows, slippers, and vest with bulging pockets of banana peels.
2 plays plus 1 man, Hughie/Krapp’s Last Tape starring Brian Dennehy equals entertainment!
My sponsor hosts of the evening had this to say about the production, Michael: circular, Abby: intriguing and loved the night clerk, Rick: fear, loneliness, regret.
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
It was a private dinner reception. All I’ll say is salmon is a risky choice.