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Krapp’s Last Laugh

I saw a production of Krapp’s Last Tape, Beckett’s analysis of old age and retrospect, in York a few weeks back.  Beckett once said most of his plays were comedies, and certainly many of his plays have aspects of music hall and clowning.  In the opening moments of Krapp’s Last Tape, the aged Krapp finds a banana in a desk draw and proceeds to chomp away.  One man in the audience exploded with laughter and for lack of a better term was literally wetting himself in the moment.  The man had to, after a few brief moments, stand up, apologise to the audience of a 100ish people and walk out.  I wondered firstly why the man found this simple action so hilarious.  No doubt the action was funny and the performer very good in his role, but I wondered if there was more to it.  Perhaps the contrast of the complete lack of colour and the purely grey, white and black stage and the surreal aspect of the ghostly Krapp entwined with the grim lighting and the very name of Samuel Beckett and the seriousness that comes with his moniker.  Perhaps he felt he wasn’t allowed to find the show funny at all, perhaps the shock of being confronted with something hilarious made it even funnier.  And the way he apologies to me suggested he felt he was distracting or upsetting people by enjoying something perhaps Peter Brook would argue we are not meant to ‘enjoy’ as more ‘experience’ like Shakespeare.  Does the contrast between the institution of ‘Beckett’ and surreal dark theatre damage the fact that these plays have comedy elements?  Naturally throughout the play the audience had a few more chuckles that unfortunately this random man missed out on a decent performance.