Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 433
Hugo Pludek, an amateur chess player and, later, liquidator of the Liquidation Office and Inauguration Service. Young, commanding, and insightful, Hugo attends the garden party of the Liquidation Office looking for a career; his penetration of the bureaucratic paranoia allows him to move up quickly in politics, treating his confrontations as moves in a chess game.
Maxy Falk, the Inaugurator of Parties, Conferences, and Celebrations. A young man with a sense of humor, he is trying to reform the dogmatic institution of the Inauguration Service. He keeps the clerk and secretary of the garden party on their toes, until Hugo decides to liquidate the Service.
Director, the head of the Liquidation Office, a womanizer and a bureaucrat. While in the act of liquidating the Inauguration Service, he discovers that his own office is next on the liquidation list. Losing a verbal duel with Hugo, he “hits the sack,” climbing into the wastebasket with the Secretary.
Secretary, who works at the garden party and in the Liquidation Office. Unmarried, she is an attractive woman with an ongoing relationship with the Director and a budding relationship with the Clerk. Alternately emotional and businesslike, she carries out the liquidation of property, including the Director’s clothes.
Clerk, who also works at the garden party and in the Liquidation Office. Young and unmarried, he is enamored of the Secretary. Falk invites him to relax, “undress if you like,” precipitating his struggle between obeying the “party” line and thinking for himself. Before he can reform completely, the liquidation of his office is announced.
Albert Pludek, Hugo’s father, middle-aged and middle class, possibly once a director in the theater. Hopeful for his son’s prospects, he spouts meaningless aphorisms as wisdom and sends his younger son, Peter, to the basement or the attic to avoid contact with visitors.
Berta Pludek, Hugo’s mother, a former actress. Equally middle class and hopeful, she wants Hugo to date Amanda. She appears whenever Hugo mentions “Mummy.”
Amanda, a young woman, a beginning actress in a postmodern self-signifying theatrical device, both a character in the play and simply an actress in Havel’s play. Her task is to deliver telegrams from Albert Pludek’s childhood chum, now in a position of importance in the bureaucracy. Berta Pludek cheers her up, remarking that bit parts are a way to start in show business.
Peter Pludek, Hugo’s nearly silent younger brother. He is shuttled into hiding whenever visitors are expected. He says one word, “Goodbye,” and exits with Amanda.