No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land
Director: Sean Mathias, Robin Lough
Writer: Harold Pinter
Cast: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Owen Teale, Damien Molony
Seen on: 26.6.2021

Hirst (Patrick Stewart) brings home Spooner (Ian McKellen) for a drink after just meeting in a pub. Spooner seems to have seen better days, while Hirst is obviously well-off. As Spooner talks, it appears that the encounter may not have been entirely by chance, Spooner seems to know more about Hirst. His behaviour certainly draws the suspicions of Foster (Damien Molony) and Briggs (Owen Teale) – apparently part of Hirst’s household – who question Spooner after Hirst leaves the room. But nobody really figures out what is going on here, at least not a first.

No Man’s Land is well-acted and I liked the stage design, but I could not handle this play. It’s really not my thing, to put it mildly.

The poster for the production, showing Spooner (Ian McKellen) and Hirst (Patrick Stewart) standing next to each other in suits, with serious expressions.

Watching Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen together was my main reason to get tickets for the play. And as anticipated, the two together were an absolute delight. Not only are they great each on their own, but they have such a relaxed playfulness with each other that gives their characters a lot more depth.

But I also liked Teale and Molony who have the difficult task of holding their own next to this combined star power and do so admirably. The interactions between all four characters were certainly spot-on.

Spooner (Ian McKellen) and Hirst (Patrick Stewart) having tea together.

Now comes my but: But I really don’t know what to do with this play. It is deliberately confusing, only clearing things up little by little (though not entirely), which, okay, not my favorite thing, but I can deal with it. When I find the confusion interesting, that is. But I could muster up no interest here. I found myself drifting and nodding off more and more, and the longer things went on, the more everybody on stage drank, the less I could be arsed to pay attention to any of it.

I’m not saying that there is nothing woth considering in the play, but it failed to draw me in enough to even make me try interpret things here. Maybe this would have been different if I had previous knowledge of Pinter’s work, but now I’m not so sure I want to see his other stuff, either. Well. If I do, you’ll read about it here.

Spooner (Ian McKellen) and Hirst (Patrick Stewart) getting served a drink by Briggs (Owen Teale).

Summarizing: only recommended if you can deal with Pinter. Then it’s probably very good.

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