The Chairs

Definition

Theater

  • A one-act tragic farce by Eugene Ionesco. It was firstperformed in 1952 in Paris and produced in London in 1957. The play'stheme, according to Ionesco, is nothingness. The curtain goes up ontwo empty chairs in a large empty room; we later learn that this issituated high up in a tower surrounded by water. The only charactersto appear are an Old Man, an Old Woman, and a deaf-mute Orator. Theelderly married couple talk about their meaningless lives and thepeople they have known, adding further empty chairs for 'characters'that are never seen or heard. The Old Man chats to his childhood girlfriend,and the Old Woman flirts with an engraver. An invisible Emperor alsocomes in and finally the visible but mute Orator who, the Old Maninforms his unseen guests, will save mankind. The elderly couple thenleap off the tower to their deaths. Left alone, the Orator writesnonsense on a blackboard, bows to the audience, and exits, leavingthe stage crowded with empty chairs.
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