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We can begin with the obvious parallels: two men waiting for orders, for an assignment. There are suggested but unseen “other places”—in Godot, the origins of Pozzo and Lucky, and of the boy messengers. In Dumb Waiter, the offstage locations seem to be more specific: a food source on one side, a “suggested” birth and death exit and entrance on the other. Some of the features of the setting, however, are decidedly different. The two killers have beds; Gogo and Didi apparently sleep, if at all, in ditches. Secondly, the tree in Gogo and Didi’s “comes alive” when it sprouts a leaf (note, too, that Godot is a two-act, not a one-act, play.) In Dumb Waiter the central focus is a mechanical object. The major difference here is that the killers expect their orders to come from that specific place, while Gogo and Didi don’t know where their “Godot” will appear. The very difference of an interior versus an exterior space sets the two locations apart significantly. Finally, the DumbWaiter space seems confined, prison-like, while the Godot space seems limitless, unconfined, un-delineated. While both playwrights may be staging the same abstraction (what are we supposed to do—what are our orders?), Pinter’s setting and metaphors are somehow urban, human, man-made, while Beckett seems to be using the stage language to investigate Man’s place in Nature, not civilization. In other works, Beckett gets indoors (or in-skull, as in Endgame), but here there are no Pinteresque walls, doors, artifacts (Pinter once said he was trying to point at “the weasel under the coffee table”). Beckett’s sparse landscape in more stark, furniture-less (Lucky carries a folding chair for Pozzo), desolate, which gives his “stare into the ontological void” more poignancy.
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