Rose Theatre: Interview with Tom Owen, star of Krapp's Last Tape

Tom Owen as Krapp

Tom Owen as Krapp

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

He is best known to millions as Tom Simmonite, son of Compo from the BBC’s long-running comedy Last of The Summer Wine.

But theatregoers will see a very different man on stage in Kingston on Monday, when Tom Owen stars in Samuel Beckett’s classic one act play, Krapp’s Last Tape.

Set on the evening of the titular Krapp’s 69th birthday, the one man play follows the bitter, ageing loner as he listens to pre-recorded tapes made throughout his life, slowly revealing the dashed hopes, unrealised dreams and bad decisions that led him to become the resentful, failed writer he now is.

It is a meaty role for any actor, and is as far removed from the pratfalls and slapstick of Summer Wine as Owen could possibly get – a solitary banana skin gag aside.

For Owen, the real-life son of Compo actor Bill, playing Krapp is a role he cherishes.

“I really enjoyed doing Last of the Summer Wine, but when it finished, as well as hitting the bank balance, it hadn’t really stretched me as an actor,” he says.

A good friend of mine, Fiona Baddelely [who directs this production of Krapp] gave me the play and said ‘have a look at this’.

“With her help we’ve produced some pretty good reviews.”

Indeed, this touring production, which comes to the Rose Theatre for one night only on Monday, has received very positive reviews from critics – but Owen is careful not to rest on his laurels.

“It’s a play that presents challenges, and I never get complacent,” he says. “Even though it’s a comparat-ively short play, when you finish it you feel like you’ve been on a marathon.

“I’m also very lucky to have the most wonderful director who knows Samuel Beckett backwards and helps me through the many pitfalls.

“I have to say it’s a great privilege and I really do enjoy it.”

It will also be the first time Owen has performed in Kingston for 40 years.

“The last time I was in Kingston was in about 1974 when I was rehearsing for a production for Thames Television,” he says.

“I didn’t know the Rose existed but I have taken a look at it since and it looks absolutely wonderful.

“It isn’t the most commercial of pieces, and Beckett isn’t the most commercial of playwrights, but tickets have sold very well.

“But people have come along either because they love Beckett and know the play, or they know me from Last of the Summer Wine.

“You don’t walk away singing all the hit songs of the show, but a lot of people have been astounded by the piece.”

Following the play, Tom Owen will hold a Q&A session discussing Krapp’s Last Tape, Last of The Summer Wine and his father, Bill Owen.

Krapp’s Last Tape, Rose Theatre, High Street, Kingston, Monday, January 13, 7.30pm, £12. Visit rosetheatrekingston.org or call 08444 821 556.

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