Jonathan Biggins admits to a few commonalities with that of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett’s outlook on the world. “I think I have a similarly dark and jaundiced view of humanity.”
The 59-year-old satirist has stepped into his first-ever Beckett role in Krapp’s Last Tape (until December 14) as directed by fellow Helpmann Award winner Gale Edwards. While Biggins, known for the popular annual comedy show The Wharf Revue, is used to larger venues – this intimate production plays to only 60 people each performance.
The 50-minute monologue, which drew on details from Beckett’s own life, follows the 69-year-old Krapp who every year creates a tape reflecting on the past 12 months. He is faced with the decisions he made decades earlier as he listens to a tape he recorded 30 years ago and, as Biggins puts it, “contemplates the void of human existence, which Beckett was very fond of doing”.
“It’s about loneliness and isolation and they’re still very prevalent human conditions,” he says. “Loneliness is on the rise, it’s one of the great ironies of the so-called connected age. Poor old Krapp turned his back on people because he thought that was going to help him and it ultimately didn’t.”
While Biggins enjoys the humour in the play, audiences might be surprised by the dark and dramatic arc he is bringing to the character. “Beckett was actually pretty funny,” says Biggins. “He was of the opinion that there’s nothing more funny than misery and it’s kind of true. And I think people will expect me to be funny and hopefully you can pull the rug out and give them something else. This play is a punch in the stomach. I think it says an awful lot of things about being human in a very short space of time.”
Krapp’s Last Tape, 5pm, Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo, $65, redlineproductions.com.au.