A new play called Stumped is bowling over audiences at Bath’s Theatre Royal this week.

It’s about the playwrights Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter who met for the first time in Paris in 1961 and became firm friends.

Beckett had been awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, followed by Pinter in 2005.

Swindon Advertiser: Harold Pinter and Samuel BeckettHarold Pinter and Samuel Beckett (Image: Freelancer)

They became long-time friends and correspondents who shared an interest in the quintessentially English game of cricket.

Although both achieved the honour of being awarded the Nobel Prize, Pinter envied the fact that Beckett had been listed in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.

Beckett had played twice for the Trinity College Dublin First XI against Northamptonshire, thereby ensuring his place forever as a participant in a ‘first-class’ match.

Their friendship and shared love of cricket is the subject of a witty new play by Shomit Dutta, who captained Pinter’s cricket team Gaities CC for more than 20 years.

After being given an outing at Lord’s Cricket Ground, Stumped is on tour to Bath and Cambridge before returning to Hampstead Theatre in London.

It stars Stephen Tompkinson as Beckett and Andrew Lancel as Pinter.  Both actors appeared in a shorter digital version of Stumped, which Original Theatre streamed online last year.

Dutta imagines them both turning out for Gaities CC for a match in the Cotswolds nervously waiting in the pavilion for their turn to bat.

With their side at 27-2, the dramatists, at five and six in the batting order, are the next two in at the crease.

Tompkinson portays Beckett as a man who wears his genius lightly, with much self deprecation, while Lancel is an anxious Pinter willing to please.

The drama turns on their nervous uncertainty and the homage paid by Pinter to Beckett, as the better batsman.

The humour relies on their reactions as Pinter runs out the team’s best batsman, known only as ‘Doggo’, before he’s hardly played a ball.

Guy Unsworth directs a production that’s not full of laughs but makes the most of a script that reflects the great playwrights' love of literature and cricket.

There even a reference to Pinter’s reverence for the Somerset and England all-rounder, Arthur Wellard.

With set and costume design by David Woodhead, it’s a pretty bleak set that depicts both cricket pavilion and railway station waiting room.

The show is on at Bath until Saturday, May 27. To book tickets, contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk