Pinter probes chaos in a world full of alcohol

No Man’s Land: Lighthouse, Poole (19th September, 2019).

Ever since Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land was first staged at London’s Old Vic 45 long years ago, critics have been struggling to work out what exactly the playwright was saying and why.

The joy of this play is of course that actually it really doesn’t matter. There can be myriad interpretations and whether it is about coercion, control, manipulation or just losing ones sense of identity, it remains fundamentally a beautiful piece of writing. London Classic Theatre and director Michael Cabot explore its carefully nuanced complexities in this fine production, 

The story plays out in the opulent Hampstead living room of a wealthy, successful and chronically alcoholic writer called Hirst  – a tour de force performance by Moray Treadwell.  It appears he has invited Spooner, a down-at-heel poet, back from the pub. With Nicholas Gasson as the tweedy, weedy, socks and sandals wearing Spooner very much up for a drink, the booze flows and so does Pinter’s wonderfully poetic and artfully convoluted dialogue.

As Hirst drinks himself into a stupor in the small hours two more figures arrive on the scene – the flamboyantly camp Foster (Joel Macey) and the menacing Briggs (Graham O’Mara).

Who are they? What is the connection between Hirst and Spooner?  There are some surprises in store, plenty of dark humour and an overarching sense that Hirst’s world is tipping into chaos. He is marooned in a no man’s land from which there can be no escape.  All is enhanced by a superbly unsettling set by Bek Palmer – a stunning mix of circles, stuffed animals and a world literally full of alcohol. Wonderful stuff.

No Man’s Land plays Lighthouse in Poole until Saturday 21st September.

Jeremy Miles

Author: Jeremy Miles

Writer, journalist, photographer, arts and theatre publicist and occasional art historian.

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