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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Chris Wiegand

Ben Whishaw and Lucian Msamati to star in West End production of Waiting for Godot

Ben Whishaw and Lucian Msamati to star in Waiting for Godot at Theatre Royal Haymarket, London.
‘Utterly radical and incredibly beautiful’ … Ben Whishaw and Lucian Msamati to star in Waiting for Godot at Theatre Royal Haymarket, London. Composite: PR

Ben Whishaw is to star in a new London production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the play that inspired him to quit his art foundation course as a teenager and study acting instead. Whishaw will play Vladimir opposite Lucian Msamati as Estragon in the tragicomedy, directed by James Macdonald. It opens at Theatre Royal Haymarket in September.

“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,” said Whishaw. “The play was Waiting for Godot. The next day I dropped out of my art course, having decided I wanted to study acting instead.”

The actor, who graduated from Rada in 2003 and the following year played Hamlet at the age of 23 at the Old Vic, said he was thrilled and “a little terrified” to perform in Beckett’s “utterly radical and incredibly beautiful play”.

Msamati said he was looking forward to “making merry mischief” with Macdonald and Whishaw. In 2012, for the BBC’s Hollow Crown series, Msamati played the Bishop of Carlisle alongside Whishaw in the title role of Richard II.

Further casting is yet to be announced. Waiting for Godot is produced by Kate Horton for Fictionhouse and Len Blavatnik and Danny Cohen for Access Entertainment, in association with Kate Pakenham Productions. Horton said the production is “for experienced theatregoers and those making their first trip alike – and everyone who is still a student of life”.

Theatre Royal Haymarket is where Patrick Stewart played Vladimir and Ian McKellen was Estragon, with Simon Callow as Pozzo, in a 2009 production of the absurd two-act masterpiece once described as a play in which “nothing happens, twice”.

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