‘Play’ by Samuel Beckett | Beckett on Film | 2001


Play was written in English in December 1963.

Three urns stand on the stage. From each, a head protrudes – a man and two women. The play tells the story of a love triangle, and each character narrates a bitter history and their role in it. On the stage, each head is provoked into speech by an spotlight. In the film, the camera takes the role of the spotlight.

‘Adulterers, take warning, never admit.’

– ‘M’, Play

Running time: 16 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.


Anthony Minghella has written many stage plays, including Child’s PlayWhale Music and Made in Bangkok. He was voted Most Promising Playwright in 1984 by the London Theatre Critics, who also gave Made in Bangkok the Best New Play award in 1986. His first film as a writer/director – Truly, Madly, Deeply – was a great success both in Britain and in the US, winning several awards. The English Patient, which he adapted for the screen and directed, has won more than 30 awards, including nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, two Golden Globe awards and six BAFTAs. The Talented Mr Ripley, which Anthony adapted for the screen and directed, was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, and for seven BAFTAs, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

‘My unfinished doctoral thesis was on Beckett. Play was the first play I ever directed, in a double bill with Happy Days. There was a time, for five years, when I read Beckett almost on a daily basis. The sense of language and poetry in his writing has been the single biggest influence on me as a writer.’

–Anthony Minghella


The screen roles of Alan Rickman (‘M’) are as numerous as his roles on stage. He has performed in many of Britain’s most renowned theatres and his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company also took him to Broadway with a production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. His television credits include the BBC’s Romeo and Juliet and Spirit of Man and HBO’s Rasputin, which in 1996 earned him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. His many film credits include: Pat O’Connor’s The January Man; Minghella’s Truly, Madly, Deeply; Tim Robbin’s Bob Roberts; Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility; Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins; and Paddy Breathnach’s Never Better.

Kristin Scott Thomas (‘W1’) has appeared in numerous films both in Europe and in the US. Her most memorable roles include The English PatientThe Horse WhispererSomebody to Love, Mission: Impossible, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Bitter Moon, among many others.

Juliet Stevenson (‘W2’) has worked extensively in theatre, television, film and radio. She has performed in several productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida, earning two Laurence Olivier nominations for Best Actress. Other theatre work includes The Country at the Royal Court, Yerma at the National Theatre, and Death and the Maiden, also at the Royal Court, for which she won an Olivier Award for Best Actress. Her film credits include: Truly, Madly, Deeply, directed by Anthony Minghella; Drowning by Numbers, directed by Peter Greenaway; and Who Dealt, directed by David Bailey.