The land is filled with people in urns chattering at top speed, but only to themselves, not to one another. The focus goes to three people: a man, his mistress and his wife.


Anthony Minghella


Samuel Beckett (play)


Learn more

More Like This 

Film (1965)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A twenty-minute, almost totally silent film (no dialogue or music one 'shhh!') in which Buster Keaton attempts to evade observation by an all-seeing eye. But, as the film is based around ... See full summary »

Directors: Samuel Beckett, Alan Schneider
Stars: Buster Keaton, Nell Harrison, James Karen
Endgame (TV Movie 2000)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Hamm is blind and unable to stand; Clov, his servant, is unable to sit; Nagg and Nell are his father and mother, who are legless and live in dustbins. Together they live in a room with two windows, but there may be nothing at all outside.

Director: Conor McPherson
Stars: Michael Gambon, David Thewlis, Jean Anderson
Mr. Wonderful (1993)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

In an attempt to end alimony payments, a working class man tries to set up his ex wife with potential husbands.

Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Matt Dillon, Annabella Sciorra, Mary-Louise Parker
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A landscape architect's dealings with a young thief cause him to re-evaluate his life.

Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Jude Law, Robin Wright, Vera Farmiga
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman dealing with inconsolable grief over the death of her partner gets another chance when he returns to earth as a ghost.

Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Jenny Howe
Dust VII (2013)
Short | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An alternative interpretation of a Tooth Fairy legend.

Directors: Ben Ockrent, Jake Russell
Stars: Lola Albert, Alan Rickman, Jodie Whittaker
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An array of glacially paced performances of theater artists and actors of all genres and nationalities both well-known and under-recognized.

Directors: David Michalek, Paul Warner
Stars: William H. Macy, Holly Hunter, Liev Schreiber
Krapp's Last Tape (TV Movie 2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

An old man listens to a tape of himself as a thirty-nine-year-old.

Director: Atom Egoyan
Stars: John Hurt
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Ann Gow, David Hatton, Dominic Minghella


Complete credited cast:
Alan Rickman ... Man
Kristin Scott Thomas ... First Woman
Juliet Stevenson ... Second Woman


The land is filled with people in urns chattering at top speed, but only to themselves, not to one another. The focus goes to three people: a man, his mistress and his wife.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Short | Fantasy



Official Sites:





Release Date:

14 July 2001 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Beckett: Näytelmä See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Version of Spil (1974) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Minghella plays with 'Play'.
26 March 2001 | by Alice LiddelSee all my reviews

'Play' is one of Beckett's most delightful confections, a farce, a vision of hell, a discordant fugue, a logorrheic din: as much a parody of Sartre's 'Huis Clos' as Sunday supplement suburban entanglements.

Three heads - a man, wife, and mistress - look out from urns, and relate the story of the man's affair and the wife's reaction to it, in a rhythmic, overlapping gabble, repeated twice to convey the idea of eternity. These lives, brought to crisis point by a very physical interruption - adultery -are condemned to a disembodied, inhuman, mechanical repetition of a previous existence.

Here, Beckett's interest in memory is at its most alienated - recalling the past is not an act of retrieval, an attempt to piece fragments of a shattered identity as in, for example 'Krapp's Last Tape'. It is a punishment, devoid of poetry, oppressively banal. Worse, the reminiscences are prompted by an unseen lighting man, like a Gestapo interrogator, switching speedily between characters, creating the play's rhythm, forcing them into 'life'. Much as they might like to, they cannot hide, they are at this man's mercy.

You can imagine the effect in the theatre: not only is the mundanity of everyday life shown to be mechanical, barren, dead, with the urns and the repetition not a metaphor for hell or limbo, but for life; but the way these insignificant lives are interrogated, as by the Gestapo, or God, or their own conscience, or paralysed desires, or us, or SOMEBODY, forces us to admit that we don't live very well.

Minghella, unlike his 'Beckett on film' collaborators, eschews over-fidelity. He keeps Beckett's words, but is radically unfaithful (a compliment!) to the play, liberated from theatrical constraints. His bombardment of montage; his intrusive use of colour, sound, camera angles; his turning Beckett's lighting man into the camera, with its clicks and whirrs and zooms; all fundamentally destroy Beckett's theatrical space.

A condition where hell mirrors suburban life, where immobility , darkness, emptiness, inertia are the tenets, is given an incongruous energy, a visual excitement. Beckett's verbal and lighting rhythms are transformed into those of editing. Life in hell no longer seems that dull and repetitive; neither, by extension, do our own lives. The intrusive, oppressive interrogation of the light becomes the more distanced voyeurism of the camera - it is not this latter that breaks the space but the editing.

This is an excellent example of an artist freeing himself from constraints, undermining his text, while remaining superficially faithful. Surely the appropriate response to 'Play' is to play. A very brave adaptation.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 11 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed