A late evening in the future.
Front centre a small table, the two drawers of which open towards audience.
Sitting at the table, facing front, i.e. across from the drawers, a wearish old man: Krapp
Rusty black narrow trousers too short for him. Rust black sleeveless waistcoat, four capacious pockets. Heavy silver watch and chain. Grimy white shirt open at neck, no collar. Surprising pair of dirty white boots, size ten at least, very narrow and pointed.
White face. Purple nose. Disordered grey hair. Unshaven.
Very near-sighted (but unspectacled). Hard of hearing.
Cracked voice. Distinctive intonation.
On the table a tape-recorder with microphone and a number of cardboard boxes containing reels of recorded tapes.
Table and immediately adjacent area in strong white light. Rest of stage in darkness.
Krapp remains a moment motionless, heaves a great sigh, looks at his watch, fumbles in his pockets, takes out an evelope, puts it back, fumbles, takes out a small bunch of keys, raises it to his eyes, chooses a key, gets up and moves to front of table. He stoops, unlocks first drawer, peers into it, feels about inside it, takes out a reel of tape, peers at it, puts it back, locks drawer, unlocks second drawer peers into it, feels about inside it, takes out a large banana, peers at it, locks drawer, puts keys back in his pocket. He turns, advances to edge of stage, halts, strokes banana, peels it, drops skin at his feet, puts end of banana in his mouth and remains motionless, staring vacuously before him. Finally he bites off the end, turns aside and begins pacing to and fro at edge of stage, in the light, i.e. not more than four or five paces either way, meditatively eating banana. He treads on skin, slips, nearly falls, recovers himself, stoops and peers at skin and finally pushes it, still stooping, with his foot over the edge of the stage into pit. He resumes his pacing, finishes banana, returns to table, sits down, remains a moment motionless, heaves a great sigh, takes keys from his pockets, raises them to his eyes, chooses key, gets up and moves to front of table, unlocks second drawer, takes out a second large banana, peers at it, locks drawer, puts back his keys in his pocket, turns, advances to the edge of stage, halts, strokes banana, peels it, tosses skin into pit, puts an end of banana in his mouth and remains motionless, staring vacuously before him. Finally he has an idea, puts banana in his waistcoat pocket, the end emerging, and goes with all the speed he can muster backstage into darkness. Ten seconds. Loud pop of cork. Fifteen seconds. He comes back into light carrying an old ledger and sits down at table. He lays ledger on table, wipes his mouth, wipes his hands on the front of his waistcoat, brings them smartly together and rubs them.
(briskly). Ah! (He bends over ledger, turns the pages, finds the entry he wants, reads.) Box . . . thrree . . . spool . . . five. (he raises his head and stares front. With relish.) Spool! (pause.) Spooool! (happy smile. Pause. He bends over table, starts peering and poking at the boxes.) Box . . . thrree . . . three . . . four . . . two . . . (with surprise) Nine! Good God! . . . seven . . . Ah! the little rascal! (He takes up the box, peers at it.) Box thrree. (He lays it on table, opens it and peers at spools inside.) Spool . . . (he peers at the ledger) . . . five . . . (he peers at spools) . . . five . . . five . . . ah! the little scoundrel! (He takes out a spool, peers at it.) Spool five. (He lays it on table, closes box three, puts it back with the others, takes up the spool.) Box three, spool five. (He bends over the machine, looks up. With relish.) Spooool! (happy smile. He bends, loads spool on machine, rubs his hands.) Ah! (He peers at ledger, reads entry at foot of page.) Mother at rest at last . . . Hm . . . The black ball . . . (He raises his head, stares blankly front. Puzzled.) Black ball? . . . (He peers again at ledger, reads.) The dark nurse . . . (He raises his head, broods, peers again at ledger, reads.) Slight improvement in bowel condition . . . Hm . . . Memorable . . . what? (He peers closer.) Equinox, memorable equinox. (He raises his head, stares blankly front. Puzzled.) Memorable equinox? . . . (Pause. He shrugs his head shoulders, peers again at ledger, reads.) Farewell to--(he turns the page)--love.
He raises his head, broods, bends over machine, switches on and assumes listening posture, i.e. leaning foreward, elbows on table, hand cupping ear towards machine, face front.
(strong voice, rather pompous, clearly Krapp's at a much earlier time.) Thirty-nine today, sound as a--(Settling himself more comfortable he knocks one of the boxes off the table, curses, switches off, sweeps boxes and ledger violently to the ground, winds tape back to the beginning, switches on, resumes posture.) Thirty-nine today, sound as a bell, apart from my old weakness, and intellectually I have now every reason to suspect at the . . . (hesitates) . . . crest of the wave--or thereabouts. Celebrated the awful occasion, as in recent years, quietly at the winehouse. Not a soul. Sat before the fire with closed eyes, separating the grain from the husks. Jotted down a few notes, on the back of an envelope. Good to be back in my den in my old rags. Have just eaten I regret to say three bananas and only with difficulty refrained from a fourth. Fatal things for a man with my condition. (Vehemently.) Cut 'em out! (pause.) The new light above my table is a great improvement. With all this darkness around me I feel less alone. (Pause.) In a way. (Pause.) I love to get up and move about in it, then back here to . . . (hesitates) . . . me. (pause.) Krapp.
The grain, now what I wonder do I mean by that, I mean . . . (hesitates) . . . I suppose I mean those things worth having when all the dust has--when all my dust has settled. I close my eyes and try and imagine them.
Pause. Krapp closes his eyes briefly.
Extraordinary silence this evening, I strain my ears and do not hear a sound. Old Miss McGlome always sings at this hour. But not tonight. Songs of her girlhood, she says. Hard to think of her as a girl. Wonderful woman, though. Connaught, I fancy. (Pause.) Shall I sing when I am her age, if I ever am? No. (Pause.) Did I sing as a boy? No. (Pause.) Did I ever sing? No.
Just been listening to an old year, passages at random. I did not check in the book, but it must be at least ten or twelve years ago. At that time I think I was still living on and off with Bianca in Kedar Street. Well out of that, Jesus yes! Hopeless business. (Pause.) Not much about her, apart from a tribute to her eyes. Very warm. I suddenly saw them again. (Pause.) Incomparable! (Pause.) Ah well . . . (Pause.) These old post mortems are gruesome, but I often find them--(Krapp switches off, broods, switches on)--a help before embarking on a new . . . (hestitates) . . . retrospect. Hard to believe I was ever that young whelp. The voice! Jesus! And the aspirations! (Brief laugh in which Krapp joins.) And the resolutions! (Brief laugh in which Krapp joins.) To drink less, in particular. (Brief laugh of Krapp alone.) Statistics. Seventeen hundred hours, out of the preceding eight thousand odd, consumed on licensed premises alone. More than 20%, say 40% of his waking life. (Pause.) Plans for a less . . . (hesitates) . . . engrossing sexual life. Last illness of his father. Flagging pursuit of happiness. Unattainable laxation. Sneers at what he calls his youth and thanks to God that it's over. (Pause.) False ring there. (Pause.) Shadows of the opus . . . magnum. Closing with a --(brief laugh)--yelp to Providence. (Prolonged laugh in which Krapp joins.) What remains of all that misery? A girl in a shabby green coat, on a railway-station platform? No?
When I look--
Krapp switches off, broods, looks at his watch, gets up, goes backstage into darkness. Ten seconds. Pop of cork. Ten seconds. Second cork. Ten seconds. Third cork. Ten seconds. Brief burst of quavering song.
Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh-igh,
Fit of coughing. He comes back into light, sits down, wipes his mouth, switches on, resumes his listening posture.
--Back on the year that is gone, with what I hope is perhaps a glint of the old eye to come, there is of course the house on the canal where mother lay a-dying, in the late autumn, after her long viduity (Krapp gives a start), and the--(Krapp switches off, winds back tape a little, bends his ear closer to the machine, switches on)--a-dying, in the late autumn, after her long viduity, and the--
Krapp switches off, raises his head, stares blankly before him. His lips move in the syllables of "viduity." No sound. He gets up, goes back stage into darkness, comes back with an enormous dictionary, lays it on table, sits down and looks up the word.
(reading from dictionary). State--or condition of being--or remaining--a widow--or widower. (Looks up. Puzzled.) Being--or remaining? . . . (Pause. He peers again at dictionary. Reading.) "Deep weeds of viduity" . . . Also of an animal, especially a bird . . . the vidua or weaver bird . . . Black plumage of male . . . (He looks up. With relish.) The vidua bird!
Pause. He closes dictionary, switches on, reusmes listening posture.