Solution to Enigmatic Variations No. 311

Perhaps the most baroque preamble I’ve had in the Enigmatic Variations series, and not something that could be squeezed into the available space today, I suspect.  Against that, the thematic release of not indicating ‘last of’ or ‘finally’ certainly shortened some clues, and may be worth trying again in some way.

The two theatrical references were perhaps somewhat obscure, although Beckett’s star continues to grow (maybe not so much for Krapp) while John Arden’s has waned.  My justification for the Arden reference was that I have actually acted (even sung) in a John Arden play, and I looked around at his other work out of curiosity, and the title stuck in my mind.

Solvers had to LAST out the ENDURANCE TEST, finding the unclued SUTOR, SNOB and COBBLER (all users of LASTs), and (in the LAST row) ESCHATOLOGY (the doctrine of LAST things).  The affected down answers referred to: FAMOUS LAST WORDS, CUSTER’S LAST STAND, KRAPP’S LAST TAPE (Beckett), FOUR LAST SONGS (Richard Strauss) and ARMSTRONG’S LAST GOODNIGHT (Arden).  No indications were given of the use – inclusion or omission – of LAST letters of words involved in clue wordplay.

ACROSS

1              FRENCH STICK; anag. – I

10           AUTO; aut(h)o(r)

12           MNAS; m,n a,s

13           SERIEMA; Erie in sma’

14           OCTETS; O C + anag.

16           FLEW; l in few

18           ALAAP; a in a lap

21           ONEYRE; on Eyre

23           JAUPS; ja ups

26           DSOMO; last letters

27           STROUD; ro in stud

29           HOST; s in hot

31           LEMON; mo in Len

32           YAWP; way (rev.) + P

35           FIACRE; a/c in fire

38           PION; o in pin

39           KRAAL; a in lark (rev.)

40           WANT; w ant

DOWN

1              WORDS; w ords; FAMOUS

2              RUNCINATE; n in anag.

3              ETAT; tate (rev.)

4              STAND; st(r)and; CUSTER

5              HIES; hi(v)es

6              TUILLES; i in tulles

7              ITEM; I + met (rev.)

8              COMB; comb(er)

9              TAPE; ‘t ape & lit; KRAPP

15           HAND; H and

16           SONGS; ng in SOS; FOUR

17           WOODY; d in woo y

19           GOODNIGHT; anag; ARMSTRONG

22           YOOP; po oy (all rev.)

24           POOH-BAH; OO h,b in pah

25           SUNN; sun n

28           HAIRDO; hair do

30           TWENTY; went in t,y

31           LOCKE; lock e

33           BORS; ‘bores’

34           ABAC; a in ABC

35           FENT; fen t

36           CIAO; C(h)i(n)a o

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