The Shakespeare’s Studio Series each winter is outside the norm and often dark. Definitely the case this year, with Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett, and Hughie by Eugene O’Neill featured. Both include Joneal Joplin, who is very gifted. Excellent productions, settings, good plays, giving me more experience with Beckett and O’Neill.
And both speaking to a time and place in American / Western thinking and culture that are fast disappearing. Thank Heaven. Most of us now know the language of addiction well enough to recognize the sex and gambling addictions of Erie Smith, very well played and quite the egomaniac – he is really the only person he finds interesting in his entire world. Everyone else is an object, a mark – especially women. We know him a lot better after the play – but really – who wants to? He is way less interesting than he would have been back in the mid-1950’s, when all of us who are ‘other’ would have felt we had no chance to make an impact on the world unless we knew how white men made things happen.
Krapp and his tapes are also going the way of the dodo – though it was fun to see an 8-track being looped around expertly. Vaguely, but not facing it directly, Krapp knows that when he did not commit to the relationship he talked about 30 years before in a tape he plays over and over, he gave up a meaningful life for what he perceived as freedom. It is a tragedy, with laughs and bananas.
We can be grateful that the world has turned, and be glad that most (white) guys are now more open to life and to being human. And especially that all of us who are other – most of the world – can find our own paths in this changing world.
Damn good theater, for sure. Well done, Cincy Shakes.