Theatre Review: No Man’s Land

September 24, 2016

I debated whether or not to write this.  Being such a huge fan of both Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, it would be difficult to write an objective review of these two giants of the stage (and screen).

Frankly, I would have paid money just to watch them sit and read the phone book.

Starstruck as I was though, I had quite a surreal evening watching this version of Pinter’s work.

As I took my seat in the Grand Circle of one of the country’s most beautiful theatres (a sentiment echoed by Stewart and McKellen in the post production cast chat), the Newcastle Theatre Royal is truly a site to behold when full.

I was glad that I had rushed to get tickets on their first day on release back in March.  There was no way I was going to miss these two in action in my own home town.

One summer’s evening, two ageing writers, Hirst and Spooner, meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst’s stately house nearby.  As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men

First of all, let me state that this play is not one for Pinter virgins.  The two-act structure is alarmingly vague and you are left feeling that far more questions have been asked than answered.  Who are these people? Do they actually know each other? Are Foster and Briggs up to some nefarious scheme against the alcoholic, confused Hirst (Stewart)?

The set is shrouded in various haunting shades as night turns to day.  It adds an otherworldly feel to the scenes as if we’re in some kind of limbo.

While there were a lot of laughs to be had within the play (I’m not sure if an audience at the Theatre Royal had been subjected to the c-word three times within the space of a minute before), you’re left curiously bereft; contemplating life, success, failure, love and loss.

All four actors are at the top of their game here.  Owen Teale (Game of Thrones) and Damien Molony (Being Human, Ripper Street) more than hold their own against Stewart and McKellen, bringing both mirth and an uncomfortable undertone of menace.

It’s great to see that such quality productions are making their way to the North East.  Both Stewart and McKellen have been effusive in their praise of the Theatre Royal is one of the best venues in the country.

No Man’s Land is touring the UK until mid-December. See here for a list of dates/venues.


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