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Thus the dialogue:
Hamm: What in God’s name do you think you are doing?
Clov: [Straightening up.] I’m doing my best to create a little order.
Hamm: Drop it!
[Clov drops the objects he has picked up.] – p. 35
becomes analogous to a conversation between Beckett and the audience: give up trying to create order, to find meaning – it is not there.
This is not the only use of props and staging that Beckett uses to suggest ‘endgame’ as a structural metaphor. The insistence on grey light and a ‘bare interior’ creates an atmosphere of sparsity and of ambiguity. As Shimon Levy states, ‘In presenting a stage full with emptiness, Beckett activates the audience’s imagination and involvement, and extends an invitation to make this stage space their own.’ The lack of concrete and the abundance of ambiguity heightens the audience participation in a search for meaning, it allows for suggestive objects, phrases, and characters to have focus. The picture is facing against the wall – it is for the audience to decide how it is painted. Thus, Beckett extends a figurative chessboard to the audience and requests that they take their move. Not only is this chessboard suggested but acted upon as if it were such. Each character has a fixed amount of movement: Nagg and Nell can only rise from their dustbins, Hamm is fixed to his chair but can move as a king would – front to back and side to side; and Clov moves most freely yet is still impeded by ‘bad legs’. Hamm’s persistence on being ‘in the centre’ reads as the audience’s need for meaning – to find a fixed ‘centre’, and yet he fails to find it. Thus, the staging replicates the notion of an ‘endgame’, not only literally, but figuratively – meaning is never established or centred.
Endgame is clearly a play which revolves around teasing and negating certain audience interpretation. Beckett has described the play as ‘like the last game between Karpov and Korchnoi. After the third move both knew that neither could win, but they kept on playing.’ It resonates with Hamm’s address to the audience: ‘The end is in the beginning and yet you go on’ – the revelation that occurs once the cloths are taken off Hamm, Nagg and Nell is as much as we can salvage for an unveiling. Despite the audience’s best efforts, we still cannot find a stable meaning; the game has not ended.