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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Exit the King (French: Le roi se meurt) is a 1962 play by Eugène Ionesco, an avant-garde French playwright who is focused on portraying the isolation and triviality of human affairs in his plays. The play takes the course of one scene, during which the king, King Berenger the First, is attended by his second wife, the Queen Marguerite. The King has long understood himself to be able to control the forces of nature. The absurdist plot does not necessarily preclude this understanding to be untrue.

When the play opens, the cows are not producing milk, and the sun is late in its course, which suggest that Berenger did in fact exert control over these natural forces. The entire play features Berenger, his wife, and his physician. As the king dies, his death is treated by his wife as a ceremony, which helps him to accept it.

The play resembles those of Samuell Beckett (whose similarly despondent play, Krapp's Last Tape, also features only one act).

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