Ben Whishaw to star in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot.

Ben Whishaw in Waiting For Godot
Ben Whishaw (Photo Tom Brejc, image supplied)

Ben Whishaw and Lucian Msamati will star in a new production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, directed by James Macdonald, opening at Theatre Royal Haymarket in September 2024.

Waiting For Godot has had an immense impact on Ben Whishaw. Today, Ben said, “When I was 18, I was doing an art foundation course in Bedford and went one night with a friend to London to see a play that was part of a season of plays by Samuel Beckett at the Barbican Theatre. The play was Waiting for Godot. The next day, I dropped out of my art course, having decided I wanted to study acting instead. I am unbelievably thrilled and excited – and a little terrified too – to be having this chance to perform Beckett’s utterly radical and incredibly beautiful play. It has haunted me since that night 25 years ago. And to get to do it with Lucian Msamati and James Macdonald … well, that’s just a dream“.

Ben Whishaw and Lucian Msamati in Waiting For Godot.
Lucian Msamati (Photo John Holloway, image supplied)

Beckett’s play follows Vladimir (to be played by Whishaw) and Estragon (to be played by Msamati), who are waiting for Godot. As they wait, Beckett has them encounter two other male pairs, Pozzo and Lucky, and the boy and his brother. 

Didi and Gogo wait by a tree for a man named Godot. They don’t know who he is, why they are meeting or what time he is coming – only that something incredible could happen when he does…

Productions assume the two to be tramps, educated men fallen on hard times. There are no female characters in the play and no mention of any females. Beckett even went so far as to sue a theatre company that cast females in their version of the play, stating that “women don’t have prostates”. 

Much has been written about Beckett’s plays; some critics have seen homosexual referencing in Waiting For Godot. Homosexuality was illegal in Ireland at the time it was written, and some interpretations see Vladimir and Estragon as an ageing gay couple, now impotent. They squabble but always make up, inevitably being supportive and loyal to each other. 

There is no doubt that the play explores the masculine power dynamic, but whether or not the main characters are a gay couple or not is all part of the joy of seeing a Beckett play. So much can be seen in a play in which so little appears to happen, and there’s always more to discover as you think about it in the following days.

Waiting for Godot opens at the historic Theatre Royal Haymarket for a strictly limited run starting September 2024. Tickets will go on sale in February 2024.

You can register your interest in Waiting For Godot and sign up for priority booking here:

We can’t wait! 

“Let us do something while we have the chance… at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it before it is too late!” 

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