The Dumb Waiter


Writers: Harold Pinter


Show Information

Text And Format
Number of Acts
First Produced
Dark Comedy
Time & Place
a basement with a kitchen attached
Cast Size
Ideal for
college/university theatre, fringe festival, community theatre, regional theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult characters


The Dumb Waiter is Pinter’s second play. A one act play heavily influenced by Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, it revolves around two would-be assassins waiting to learn what their next assignment will be. These men, Ben and Gus, are polar opposites: Ben takes orders as they come without question, while Gus nervously awaits new assignments by peppering Ben with myriad questions. Ben is content with his living arrangement, while Gus itches to get out in the world and do something more substantive. As Ben and Gen await their newest assignment by debating odd topics and reading the newspaper, mysterious happenings occur. Some unknown person keeps sending down random food orders through a dumb waiter, while their unseen boss Wilson keeps changing their instructions. The final showdown occurs not between the two assassins and their victim, but between Ben the assassin and Gus, who has been designated as the next victim. Told through Pinter’s distinctive wit and poignant pauses, The Dumb Waiter is one of Pinter’s most acclaimed earlier works.

Lead Characters

The Dumb Waiter guide sections