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These characters are forced to speak of the past by the spotlight that swivels from one to another. More than ever before, Beckett explores the technology of the stage to examine memory as closely linked with torture (a theme Beckett returned to in What Where, as will be explored in Chapter 3). Technology becomes the means through which to recall the past but not a means to understand it. The involuntary repetition of their past memories and the stage image, with its grey urns against the enveloping darkness, invite a comparison to purgatory as many scholars have noted.

116 The inner workings of this and other early automatons were similar to musical-boxes; they, too, had to be wound up and ran on cylinders much like manual clocks and watches. 117 Indeed, Billie Whitelaw, who was cast as Winnie in the Royal Court Theatre production, characterised Winnie as such a ‘clockwork figure’. She understood that Winnie, like a figurine in a musical-box replaying 39 The Plays of Samuel Beckett its sad and monotonous song, replays her bygone days, as is evident in her performance.

From the onset, Clov struggles to tidy the stage. In his continual struggle, Clov positions himself as the play’s author. The play opens with Clov removing the sheets that cover the furniture, ashbins and Hamm. By uncovering the set, Clov reveals and begins the play. What is to follow is his creation. ’48 Through the power struggle between Clov and Hamm, Beckett implies that to order the mess is impossible. 49 Indeed, in the very act of cleaning up, the author/artist figure, according to Beckett, fails to create.

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