The Mercadante Theatre is one of the most important historic theatres in Naples, located near the Town Hall. It was inaugurated in 1779 and was famous for the opera productions. Now it is part of the Teatro Stabile Napoli (official website https://teatrodinapoli.it/) and hosts many renowned artists. From 14th to 24th October, 2021, was staged Krapp’s Last Tape, one of the most emblematic texts by Samuel Beckett (1906-1989). In this one-act play, the famous Neapolitan actor Tonino Taiuti (born in 1950) proved to be an excellent director and an excellent performer, and the audience had the opportunity to attend a solo-performance of great emotional intensity.

Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett, poster. Courtesy of Mercadante Theatre in Naples.

Beckett wrote a play that describes the loneliness of contemporary man, the failures, the weight of memories, the few moments of happiness. In his performance, Tonino Taiuti manifests Krapp’s melancholy for the passing of time, the lost youth and the missed opportunities. His exceptional facial expressions, combined with his silences, perfectly express Krapp’s moods – even when words fail him. The slow, sometimes hysterical gestures, reflect the problems of Krapp’s aged body. With sarcasm and irony, he continues to drink whisky and eat too many bananas, even knowing his health has deteriorated.

In the New Millennium, the memory of our experience is entrusted to selfies, videos, social media. Krapp’s Last Tape was first performed in 1958, but Beckett had a visionary ability to narrate human life through recordings of the protagonist’s voice. The memory is no longer stored in the brain but in a tape-recorder, which helps an old man with many problems to find again his past. Krapp recorded his memories for years, and his past is kept in an archive in his home. On his 69th birthday, he feels the need to listen the tape of 30 years ago – when he was 39 – and observes his changes: he is old (in body and spirit), his mother is dead, his girlfriend left him. He is alone, without a woman, and the pain of loneliness makes his everyday life difficult. With the clever alternation of his voice and the voice of the tape-recorder, Tonino Taiuti was able to create a double effect with the presence of old Krapp and young Krapp, and also making evident the presence/memory of the other characters.

The enthusiasm of young Krapp is counterbalanced by the sadness of old Krapp: at 69, he realizes that death is imminent, he laughs at himself for the futile attempt to make sense of his own existence, which has turned out to be unsuccessful. For this reason, listening to the past is an act of courage: in fact, Krapp knows well the shadows – in his room and in his soul. With his acting, Tonino Taiuti embraces the shadows on the stage, restoring the fragility of a man and his need for love.

Tonino Taiuti’s exhibition at the Mercadante Theatre. Courtesy of Mercadante Theatre in Naples.

Beckett is a fundamental author in Tonino Taiuti’s career. For this reason, the Neapolitan actor – passionate about music and painting – paid homage to the Irish playwright with the art exhibition BECKET.T / Tra ombre e silenzi (BECKET.T / Between shadows and silences), in the Foyer of the Mercadante Theatre. There were about thirty works, including paintings, sculptures and drawings made by Tonino Taiuti: they represent his personal encounter with Beckett, and offered to the audience the opportunity to appreciate even more a performance of moving beauty.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.