The Dumb Waiter

The Dumb Waiter Study Guide

The Dumb Waiter is a one-act play written by English playwright Harold Pinter in 1957. The short play is set in a single basement room. There are only two characters: Gus and Ben, hitmen waiting for a target to arrive.

The play has elements of realism and absurdism. Later in his career, Pinter wrote more overtly political plays, but The Dumb Waiter includes only veiled references to relationships of power.

The play was first performed Frankfurt, Germany in 1959, followed by an English-language premiere in London in 1960. Major revival productions were done in 1989, 2007, and 2013. A BBC made-for-TV film version of the play was released in 1985, and another made-for-TV version was filmed in Canada and televised in the United States in 1987.