Krapp's Last Tape & The Age of Consent
Old Fire Sation Theatre, 27-31.1.4

A double-bill of monologues this week from student company Urmum, one famous, the other notorious:

First on is Krapp's Last Tape, Samuel Beckett's meditation on the self-consuming nature of autobiography; an old man marking over and over his life on tape, despising his follies, celebrating his pitiful successes, scavenging what small sensual pleasures he can. Toby Chapman, despite his youth and good looks, works hard at the wistful regret of age, negotiating dangerous banana skins with a fine palsied totter, beating a path through the dark (though scarcely cluttered) stage with a rolling, incontinent scramble. But Krapp's sickly sexuality lacks filthiness, making him less the poor old fool we can laugh at and more the poor old fool we are. Still, nowadays, when online journals are ushering in a new age of autobiographical rambling, Krapp stands firm, both as celebration, and a horrible warning.

Peter Morris' Timmy, a child murderer who is also a child himself, has aged less well. When it first went to stage, the James Bulger case was a fresh memory. Outraged people wrote letters; there was a storm of reviews, good and bad. A few years later, the questions are still current, but Morris' responses have dated. The Goldeneye computer game and Toy Story 2 are now references we have to reach for, the sniping at the press (Morris is himself a journalist) looks incestuous, and the presented reasons (bad parenting, lack of prospects) seem not just inadequate, but offensive to all the people with imperfect lives who do not commit murder. Obviously artificial props (unplugged Playstation handset, blatantly shop-bought craft project) and Mark Grimmer's straightforward performance keep attention firmly on Timmy's laugh-along un-PC recitation of long words and crude social commentary, which now sound unconvincing as Morris' speculations about the nature and roots of evil.

Jeremy Dennis, 27.01.04