Summary of Chairs

Eugene Ionesco
Chairs
There are many invisible characters in the play and three real ones – the Old Man (95 years old), the Old Woman (94 years) and the Orator (45-50 years old). At the front of the stage there are two empty chairs, three doors and a window on the right, and three doors and a window on the left, near which there is a black board and a small elevation. Another door is in the depth. Under the windows of the house splashing water – The old man, having moved across the windowsill, tries to see the swim boats with guests, and the old woman begs not to do this, complaining about the putrid smell and mosquitoes.
The old man calls the Old Woman Semiramis, she also manages the caressing words “darling”, “bunting”, “baby”. While waiting for the guests, the old people talk: it used to be always light, but now the darkness is impenetrable, and there was once such a city in Paris, but four thousand years ago it faded away – only a song from it remained. The old woman admires the old man’s talents: it’s a pity he did not have enough ambition, and after all he could be the chief emperor, the chief editor, the chief doctor, the chief marshal… However, he is still a marshal of staircase marches – in other words, a gatekeeper. When the old woman adds inadvertently that there was no need to bury the talent in the ground, the Old Man burst into tears and loudly calls Mummy – with great difficulty the Old Woman manages to calm him with a reminder of the great Mission. Tonight, the Old Man must deliver the message to mankind – for this reason, the guests were summoned. There will be absolutely everything: owners, craftsmen, guards, priests, presidents, musicians, delegates, speculators, the proletariat, the secretariat, the military, the village, intellectuals, monuments, psychiatrists and their clients… The universe is waiting for the News, and the Old Woman can not hide the proud joy : at last the Old Man decided to speak with Europe and other continents!
There is a splash of water – the first guests came. The agitated old people are hobbling to the door in the niche and escorted to the front of the invisible guest: judging by the conversation, this is a very kind lady – the Old Woman is subdued by her secular manners. The water splashes again, then someone calls to the door persistently, and the Old Man freezes in the doorway at attention in front of the invisible Colonel. The old woman hastily takes out two more chairs. Everyone settles down, and between the invisible guests a conversation begins, which more and more shock the owners of the house. The old man even considers it necessary to warn the Colonel that the dear lady has a husband. Another call, and the old man is waiting for a pleasant surprise – the “young charmer” came in, in other words, a childhood friend with her husband. An invisible but obviously representative gentleman presents a picture as a present, and the Old Woman begins to flirt with him, as a real whore, – lifting up skirts, loudly laughing, building eyes. This grotesque scene stops unexpectedly, and a series of memories comes: The old woman tells how an ungrateful son left the house, and the Old Man mourns that they...

have no children – but perhaps this is for the better, because he himself was a bad son and left his mother to die under the fence. Calls to the door follow one after another, and the action speeds up:
The old man meets the guests, and the Old Woman, panting, drags out more and more chairs. Through the crowd of invisible invitees it is already difficult to push through: The old woman only has time to ask if the Old Man has put on his underpants. Finally, the calls stop, but the whole scene is already set by chairs, and the Old Man asks for the late invisible to be placed along the walls, so as not to disturb the others. He himself makes his way to the left window, Semiramis freezes near the right – both will remain in these places until the end of the play. The old people conduct a secular conversation with the guests and echo through the crowd among themselves.
Suddenly, from behind the scenes, there is a rumble and fanfare – this was granted by the emperor. The old man is overjoyed: he orders everyone to get up and lamented only by the fact that he can not get close to His Majesty closer – court intrigues, what can you do! But he does not give in, and, shouting out to the crowd, shares with the precious emperor the sufferings experienced: the enemies feasted, friends betrayed, beaten with a club, thrust a knife, substituted a leg, did not give a visa, never received an invitation card, destroyed the bridge and ruined the Pyrenees. .. But here came insight on him: it was forty years ago when he came to his papa to kiss before going to the crib. Then they began to laugh and married him – they proved that it was big. Now an orator will appear, present the saving message, for the Old Man himself is alas! – really can not speak.
Voltage increases. Door number five opens unbearably slowly, and there is an Orator – a real character in a wide-brimmed hat and cloak, similar to the artist or poet of the last century. Without noticing anyone, the speaker goes to the stage and begins to give autographs to the invisible. The old man turns to the audience with a farewell word (the old woman echoes it, passing from sobbing to real sobbing): after much hard work for the sake of progress and for the benefit of mankind, he will disappear along with his faithful friend – they will die leaving an eternal memory. Both are showered with confetti and Orator’s serpentine and empty chairs, and then with a cry of “Long live the emperor!” jump out each to their own window. There are two screams, two splashes. The speaker, impassively watching the double suicide, begins to moo and wave his arms – it becomes clear, that he is deaf and dumb. Suddenly his face grows light:
Grabbing the chalk, he writes on the blackboard the big letters DDR… SHCHSLYM… BDRRBR… Looking with a satisfied smile to the invisible audience, he waits for an admiring reaction – then darkens, sharply bows and leaves through the door in the back. On an empty stage with chairs and a stage, strewn with serpentine and confetti, for the first time there are cheers, laughter, coughing – this invisible audience diverges after the performance.


Summary of Chairs