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It’s the end of the world as we know it

The theatre scene in the capital has started out strong this year and it seems that it will just get better. As the weekend is the time to get out there and discover new stories, the play opening on Friday promises tragedy.

Les Chaises (The Chairs) by Romanian-French playwright Eugene Ionesco will be presented at Theatro Dentro at 8.30pm. Les Chaises, which was written in 1952, concentrates on two characters only known as Old Man and Old Woman. The two spend their time frantically preparing chairs for a series of invisible guests who are coming to hear an orator reveal the Old Man’s discovery – which is implied but never really said to be the meaning of life. These invisible guests are said to be everyone, that is everyone in the world, which implies – along with other facts – that the tragic farce is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The fact that the Old Man refers to the destruction of Paris and the constant referral to the invisible guests, imply that the Old Man and the Old Woman are the last two people on the planet.

When the invisible guests arrive, the two characters speak to them and reminisce about their lives. The entrance of the invisible emperor brings the couple much joy, while the orator – who is played by an actor and does not fit in with the invisible theme throughout the play so far – brings speeches with much depth to the assembled crowd. As the orator begins to speak, the invisible crowd assembled in the room and the real audience in the theatre discover that the orator is a deaf-mute.

Things get even stranger when the couple then commit suicide by throwing themselves out of the window into the ocean because at the point when everyone in the world is going to hear the Old Man’s revelation life couldn’t get any better, so why continue with it.

The end of the play is, according to Ionesco, the most significant moment. When all the action is finished and the old couple are gone, the sound of an audience fades in. In a letter to the first director of the play, Ionesco said “the last decisive moment of the play should be the expression of… absence.” He also said that after the orator leaves “the audience would have in front of them… empty chairs on an empty stage decorated with streamers, littered with useless confetti, which would give an impression of sadness, emptiness and disenchantment, such as one finds in a ballroom after a dance; and it would be after this that the chairs, the scenery, the void, would inexplicably come to life (that is the effect, an effect beyond reason, true in its improbability, that we are looking for and that we must obtain), upsetting logic and raising fresh doubts.”

The play is directed by Georgos Mouaimis, and stars Stavros Louras and Annita Santorineou.

The Chairs
Performance of the tragic farce by Eugene Ionesco. January 12 until February 7. Theatro Dentro, 44 Enotitos Street, Palouritoissa, Nicosia. 8.30pm. €10/13. In Greek. Tel: 99-384606

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