The production, directed by Michael Colgan, is a shining example of when a paint-by-numbers approach is recommended and why this treatment is a textbook example of honoring a play both amusing and devastating in its distillation of a man reviewing the confusions and disappointments of his life.
Indeed, the only noticeable change from Beckett's scrupulous stage directions that Hurt makes is dropping a set of keys needed to open two drawers on the desk Beckett stipulates.
"Extraordinary silence this evening," Krapp, looking back at 69, says on the tape he plays of his 39-year-old incarnation. Later he says twice and almost a third time "never knew such silence." Hurt and Colgan also take these phrases as cues, making the most of Krapp's silences from the very first prolonged one when the lights go up on Hurt simply staring into the middle distance.
Only after listening to himself as a younger man expatiate on several free-association subjects -- incidentally, Hurt's voice on this tape isn't very different from his older voice -- does Krapp blurt his opinion of himself as a younger man. He taunts himself with being a writer of less than modest awards.
Hurt, across whose lined face any number of additional unspoken thoughts have already played, erupts with uncontrollable control at his present and past selves. What makes Hurt, wearing hilariously squeaky shoes, especially effective as Krapp is that he's an actor who has always looked older than his years and therefore more prematurely and painfully aware of life's woes. That blend of age and youth works for this interpretation of a man terminally out of sorts with himself.