Previewed 8 September 2016, Opened 20 September 2016, Closed 17 December 2016 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
A major revival of Harold Pinter's play No Man's Land in London starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart and directed by Sean Mathias.
"You are in no man's land. Which never moves, which never changes, which never grows older, but which remains forever, icy and silent"
Harold Pinter's No Man's Land is a tragicomic play about two aging writers, Hirst and Spooner. After meeting on Hampstead Heath, they return home for a late-night session of witty banter, sinister power games and the worship of alcohol, watched over by Hirst's henchmen, Briggs and Foster. No Man's Land is part mystery drama, part homage to the ghosts of the past and the fiction of memory.
The cast for this production features Ian McKellen as 'Spooner' and Patrick Stewart as 'Hirst' with Owen Teale as 'Briggs' and Damien Molony as 'Foster'. Directed by Sean Mathias with designs by Stephen Brimson Lewis and lighting by Peter Kaczorowski. This revival staging - starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen - was originally seen at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 2013 when it played in repertory with Sean Mathias' revival of Beckett's Waiting for Godot which had been originally staged at London's Haymarket Theatre in 2009. Sean Mathias' credits include the play Cowardice.
When this production opened here at the Wyndham's Theatre in September 2016, Michael Billington in the Guardian commented that this was "a faithful and loving production that captures both the essential bleakness and paradoxical comedy of this enigmatic masterwork... This is not only the most poetic of Pinterís plays, it is also one that offers great opportunities for actors which Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen richly seize." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph hailed "Sean Mathias's brilliant revival of Harold Pinter's 1975 masterpiece... Unmissable." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said that "Sir Ian McKellen is the main reason to see the West End's latest revival of Harold Pinter's wearyingly absurdist 1974 play No Man's Land. This is one of those works admired by theatre professionals who profess to love its multi-layered meanings - whereas lay folk blink in confusion, doubting there is much meaning at all." Benedict Nightingale in the London Evening Standard though that, "despite its subtleties and strangenesses, No Manís Land remains a play packed with tension and conflict." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times wrote that, "as Hirst, a successful man of letters, Patrick Stewart exudes the kind of restraint which implies immense power in reserve, yet is also, when occasion demands, vain, rumbling or even elegiac, evoking at various moments Shakespeare's Lear and Beckett's Krapp. He meshes beautifully with Ian McKellen as Spooner, his down-at-heel guest." Ann Treneman in the Times decribed how "it feels a bit of a landmark production to see these two grand old men, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, the Galapagos tortoises of the English stage, having such fun with Pinter... Sean Mathias directs and the timing is good if occasionally languorous. Both stars do a fine pratfall but it is small details, the tiny gesture, the facial tic, that mark out their performances as special." Neil Norman in the Daily Express highlighted that "Harold Pinter's 1975 play is enigmatic and cryptic. Balancing on a razor's edge between the preposterous and the obscure it requires two great actors to pull it off... Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen spar like veterans, drawing out the humour and the pathos from characters who are drowning in their own mortality... Stewart is a study in restrained malevolence, staring like a basilisk as Spooner delivers yet another self-regarding aria. McKellen is wonderful as shabby poet Spooner, reduced to collecting glasses in a pub."
"Whether you regard Harold Pinter as a writer of genius with profound insights into the human condition or a theatrical emperor in a sumptuous array of new clothes, you'll find much to enjoy in this new production of his 1975 play... The no man's land of the title may be the anteroom to death or even purgatory. But such ambiguity should not be mistaken for depth. To my mind, it is an extremely skilful dramatic game, exciting and engaging from moment to moment but amounting to little more than the sum of its parts. Its chief virtue lies in providing an opportunity for two veteran actors to demonstrate their craft... Patrick Stewart is splendid. Initially swathed in a cloud of secret sadness, he turns in an instant from apathetic torpor to blistering rage. It is, however, Ian McKellen who most impresses. With his fluting voice and fluttering gestures, he is the essence of guileful ingratiation." The Sunday Express
"Played by Patrick Stewart with his trademark commanding stillness, Hirst looks like a brutishly successful businessman who has retired to Jersey to play golf. Spooner looks like a follower of Jeremy Corbyn, with a brown corduroy cap and a stubby little ponytail. Another theatregoer thought it was the label of his cap sticking out, but I'm sure it was a ponytail. He also wears a shabby old suit with one trouser leg stuck inside one of his grubby white socks, and a pair of plimsolls. The two old soaks drift on into the small hours together, enigmatically and elegiacally reminiscing, mentally wandering, drinking... So what is it all about? Forty years after the play's first appearance, it isn't much clearer. Memory, mortality and loss? Yes. There's also the isolation of the artistic vocation. And Pinter's anxieties that all high art and culture are based on economic exploitation and systemic inequality ó while he himself had become rich and famous, and lived in London's grandest streets. It's reverently and handsomely directed by Sean Mathias... If you like Pinter, you'll love it; if you've never quite seen the point of him, then this production may persuade you; either way, you're sure to be delighted by the sheer acting mastery of two of our leading theatrical knights on superlative form." The Sunday Times
"One of the theatre highlights of this year is this pairing of two stage knights, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, in Harold Pinterís maddening but brilliant 1975 play. Thanks to their roles in the X-Men film franchise, both actors can well afford to stay at home with their feet up. But here they are, in their mid-70s, having done a regional tour and a Broadway run, and yet itís still somehow fresh... Thereís always the worry with McKellen that heíll overact. But heís better by a whisker than Stewart, who doesnít quite convey Hirstís tweedy, Evelyn Waugh-ish grandeur... But itís not just a double act. Owen Teale is sensational as Hirstís gruff servant Briggs, with Damien Molony as his chipper sidekick Foster. And Sean Mathiasís production gives full weight to this poetical playís dazzling verbal elegance and its shocking Anglo-Saxon filth. Thereís audience laughter you associate more with Tom Stoppard, but this production is also a reminder that whatever you think of Pinter, the old grumpís greatest gift was his ability to write terrific parts for our very best actors." The Mail on Sunday
Ian McKellen's recent West End theatre credits include Trevor Nunn's revival of Shakespeare's King Lear at the New London Theatre in 2007 and Sean Mathias' staging of the Christmas pantomime Aladdin at the Old Vic Theatre in 2004 and 2005. Patrick Stewart recent London stage credits include Gregory Doran's revival of Shakespeare's Hamlet with David Tennant at the Novello Theatre in 2008; Rupert Goold's revival of Shakespeare's The Tempest at the Novello Theatre in 2007; Rupert Goold's revival of Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Gielgud Theatre in 2007; Lindsay Posner's revival of David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre with Joshua Jackson at the Apollo Theatre in 2005; and Anthony Page's revival of Henrik Insen's The Master Builder with Sue Johnston at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2003. In addition Patrick Stewart presented his own man show A Christmas Carol, adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens, at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2005.
No Man's Land in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 8 September 2016, opened on 20 September 2016 and closed on 17 December 2016.
No Man's Land starring Michael Gambon 2008
Previewed 27 September 2008, opened 7 October 2008, closed 3 January 2009 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London
A major revival of Harold Pinter's play No Man's Land in London starring Michael Gambon, David Bradley and David Walliams.
The cast for No Man's Land in London features Michael Gambon as 'Hirst', David Bradley as 'Spooner', David Walliams as 'Foster' and Nick Dunning as 'Briggs'. The production is directed by Rupert Goold with designs by Giles Cadle, lighting by Neil Auston and music and sound by Adam Cork.
"Harold Pinter's No Man's Land... resists interpretation, but to thrilling rather than irritating effect. It's best taken 'just as it comes', as Hirst takes his whisky. The characters go off on hilarious riffs about past affairs and sexual encounters on Hampstead Heath. Pantomime jokes clash with literary parodies and the writing ripples with allusions, which Rupert Goold's superb production and a quartet of precise performances deepen and amplify." The Mail on Sunday
"Some of Harold Pinter's plays have aged better than others but the years have not been so kind to this one. Even with Michael Gambon and the immensely experienced David Bradley and Nick Dunning in the cast and the great Rupert Goold directing, the whole thing feels flat, dated and tiring. What are all the men up to? After a while you just start to think: who cares?" The Sunday Telegraph
"This is Harold Pinter at his thinnest, least structured and most aimless: narrow range, wandering, elliptical, cul-de-sac conversations, a total lack of emotional investment or risk. Rupert Goold's treatment feels intensely respectful, which doesn't help. You might want to view the play as a metaphor for the way art subserves the dominant ideology, or an allegory of Pinter's usual beef, the operations of power. But it's all rather simplistic and silly." The Sunday Times
No Man's Land in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 27 September 2008, opened on 7 October 2008 and closed on 3 January 2009.