How cool is this? A nerd scientist, Dr. George Krapp (John Feffer) has invented genetic modification – bacillus hypocritus, or “the love bug” – which extends human life expectancy by five years. But he can’t get approval for human experimentation in the U.S., which will be necessary before he can market the product. So he travels to D.C. in order to make a presentation before the “sophisticated audience” who might persuade the authorities to change their minds.
Krapp’s principal barrier in accomplishing this task is – Krapp. He is dry, given to meandering, and, frankly, boring. A half hour listening to unadulterated Krapp and believe me, life extension will be the furthest thing from your mind.
So Krapp has devised a couple of strategies to keep his audience engaged while he goes astray. One is the PowerPoint presentation, which tells us what Dr. Krapp meant to say when he wandered off to talk about his wife or to share his bitterness toward his colleague Malcolm. The PowerPoint is a blizzard of authoritative-looking formulae and charts, interspersed with commercial-grade pictures of happy people, all, presumably, now enjoying lives five years longer. But since Krapp programmed the PowerPoint, it inevitably begins to hunt down Krapp’s obsessive concerns, eventually providing charts and formulae which measure Krapp’s miserable personal life in as much detail as it measures animal trials on the love bug.
Krapp’s other strategy is to invent alternative universe Krapp to take us over the boring parts. This crypto-Krapp, influenced by the techniques of his childhood minister, Father Divine, is a mesmerizing storyteller who once held the great physicist Dr. Richard Feynman in thrall as he explained how Feynman’s theories meshed with his own. He needs no power point to tell his story. He is Krapp; hear him spin.
As you may have guessed by now, Krapp’s Last Power Point has nothing to do with the iconic Beckett play – except for this: they both feature a banana. In this version, Krapp does not slip on the banana peel. That distinction is reserved for us.
One of the great pleasures of the Fringe is discovering a performer who has not been on a theatrical stage before, but who is gloriously at home before an expectant crowd. Feffer presents his preposterous, heartbreaking material with superb comic timing and consummate flair. You will not learn anything about him from the program – there is none – but, thanks to his website, I was astonished to discover that he is the co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute of Policy Studies, and an expert in Korean studies who had a fellowship at Stanford. Such a man may not have theatrical experience, but he knows his way around a PowerPoint.
Karin Lee appears briefly, and effectively, in the production. Kip Voytek designed the swell projections.
Written, directed and produced by John Feffer
Reviewed by Tim Treanor