The Chairs is a one-act tragic farce. A ninety-five-year-old man and his ninety-four-year-old wife live isolated on an island. They interminably reminisce, joke, and quarrel. He plans to share his life experience with posterity and has invited a large audience to hear the orator who will speak on his behalf. It would be touching if their dialogue were meaningful, but disconnected from reality, past or present, it often derails into a mechanical blurb.
The doorbell rings, and the old man hobbles to the door. He welcomes the first guest, but the Lady is invisible. The old people are excitingly talking to no one; the chair they offer to the visitor remains empty. The episode repeats itself again and again, with the old couple bringing chairs from the wings faster and faster. This multiplication of chairs is a theatrical miracle—the striking image of void. It culminates with the invisible Emperor’s arrival. The orator, who is a real body, is ready to speak. He reaches the dais and salutes the invisible crowd. The old woman sobs, her husband trembles with emotion; they shout “Long live the Emperor,” and throw themselves out of two symmetrical windows. The orator, who has remained impassive during the double suicide, coughs, groans, and utters his message—a few guttural sounds. The expected speech is as void as the chairs.
The Chairs portrays the loneliness of the elderly. Their situation borders on tragic. They have no...
(The entire section is 454 words.)