‘Ohio Impromptu’ by Samuel Beckett | Beckett on Film | 2001


Ohio Impromptu, written in 1980, opens with a figure clad in black with long white hair hiding his face and sitting on a white chair at a white table. There are two characters, the Reader and the Listener. The Reader, it emerges, is a mysterious messenger from someone now dead and once loved by the Listener. The book the Reader reads from tells the story of the Listener mourning right up until the last moment, when the story is told for the last time and ‘there is nothing left to tell’. Throughout, the Listener not only listens but also regulates his companion’s reading by knocking on the table with his hand in an attempt to ensure that this will not be the final telling of the tale.

‘With never a word exchanged they grew to be as one.’

– Ohio Impromptu

Running time: 12 minutes

The Beckett on Film project includes all 19 plays of Samuel Beckett, considered the most significant Irish playwright of the 20th century. Many of these outstanding filmed productions have received critical acclaim at prestigious international film festivals around the world including New York, Toronto and Venice.


Charles Sturridge has worked extensively in theatre, film and television both as a screenwriter and director. His film work include RunnersA Handful of DustAriaFairy Tale and A True Story. For television he directed Soft TargetA Foreign FieldGulliver’s Travels, and Longitude. For the stage he has also translated Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull.

Ohio Impromptu captures that universally human emotion of losing the one you love the most and expresses it in its purest and most terrifying form.


Jeremy Irons is a classically trained actor who first came to prominence in the TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. His films include David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers and Barbet Schroeder’s Reversal of Fortune, for which he won an Oscar. Other film credits include The French Lieutenant’s WomanKafka, Waterland and Damage.