I don't think I've ever seen quite so many people rush at the interval to read the reviews posted outside the theatre, in a desperate attempt to work out what the hell's going on. Of the Pinter plays I've seen so far, No Man's Land
is by far the most abstract, bordering on the Beckett. Hirst, an ageing, alcoholic but successful writer (Michael Gambon) meets Spooner (David Bradley) a shabby, failed poet in a pub and invites him back to his flat for more drinks. Also there are Foster and Briggs (David Walliams and Nick Dunning,) Hirst's two assistants/servants, who seem to have a mutually parasitic relationship with their employer. Rupert Goold's production has a lyrical quality, and the actors are as good as you'd imagine - Bradley pretty much steals the show though, and although Walliams is good, I found the same problem watching him as with Catherine Tate - namely that when an actor's had their own sketch show, you've already seen so many of their acting tics that everything they do reminds you of one character or another.
Giles Cadle's set is dominated by a drinks cabinet so well-stocked it's a constant reminder of Hirst's alcohol problem. As with many Pinter characters, these four seem to be trapped in prisons of their own making, desperate to escape but terrified to at the same time. This was vanessaw
's first experience seeing Pinter and she likened it to a painting, not so much a story as a way of gradually building up the picture of who these characters are. Certainly one to keep you thinking long after you've left the theatre, even if you're unlikely to come to many conclusions.No Man's Land
by Harold Pinter is booking until the 3rd of January at the Duke of York's Theatre.