Pinter, flares, and a power struggle.
Having revived the Broadway stint with a short England tour, the production settled into London’s Wyndham Theatre for an impressive fourteen week run, with a live-screening two days before its close.
The most striking element of any Pinter play is the frustration that boils under the surface of every character. The Birthday Party‘s Stanley; The Homecoming‘s Lenny; The Caretaker‘s Davies. They all want what they can’t have, because it is beyond their reach or behind them, and to explicitly state their wishes is disturb the fabric of stability they’ve become accustomed to.
No Man’s Land digs deeper. Ageing, perhaps dementia, but more than memory loss is the sense of loss – the loss of who you are, who you were, and what the future may still have in store. Hirst (Patrick Stewart) is a frail, emotional, alcoholic writer, under the care of two younger men, Foster (Damien Molony) and Briggs (Owen Teale). Spooner (Ian McKellen), an equally sozzled but homeless writer, arrives at Hirst’s home upon his invitation – an invitation he keeps forgetting he made. McKellen plays a particularly mischievous Spooner to Stewart’s erratic Hirst, especially upon the arrival of Foster and Briggs – two decidedly dodgy men with a territorial hold over Hirst.
Personally, the most interesting element of the play was this trio’s relationship. A toxic mix of family, sexuality, possessive, and manipulation, there is a very real sense of wanting to keep it all within the walls of Hirst’s home – Spooner’s presence both peaks their interest and threatens that privacy.