Despite being one of the most famous plays of all time, there hasn’t been a major London revival of Samuel Beckett’s existential masterpiece ‘Waiting for Godot’ in ages.
Indeed the last really big London production was the Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart version from 2009, which played at the Haymarket Theatre Royal: exactly where this new production will run 15 years later.
In his first UK stage role since before the pandemic, Mr Paddington Bear himself Ben Whishaw will star as tramp Vladimir, with heavyweight stage actor Lucian Msamati as his companion Estragon – the two characters who famously spend the entire play doing exactly what the title says.
Famously, the Beckett estate doesn’t allow directors to do anything particularly outré to Beckett’s works or anything they feel would compromise the great Irish writer’s original vision – so women aren’t allowed to play the roles, for instance – which is probably one big reason for the gaps between productions. But a 15-year wait seems long enough. And if he’s not going to be allowed to tinker heavily, James Macdonald is an excellent choice for director: his work with avant-garde legend Caryl Churchill – an equally significant figure to Beckett – makes him the perfect fit for ‘Godot’.
Appropriately, there’s going to be a bit of a wait before you can see the show or even buy tickets for it: it doesn’t start until September (exact dates tbc) and won’t go on sale until February. But as is the way with all big West End shows these days, you can sign up for updates at its website so that you can be the first to know when it’s on sale.
‘Waiting for Godot’ is at Haymarket Theatre Royal from September 2024. Sign up for updates at waitingforgodotplay.com.
The best Christmas shows in London.