If it hadn’t been a post-performance trip to the ladies’ toilets at the Devonshire Park on Thursday night, I would still be none the wiser as to exactly what No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter was all about.
The play is described as the most beguiling and atmospheric piece of work by the playwright, actor and director but being a Pinter virgin, so to speak, I can’t comment.
The drama centres around a chance meeting between two elderly writers in a North London pub which leads to an alcohol-fuelled night of reminiscences and verbal sparring.
The setting is a large room in a house with Moray Treadwell as Hirst, Nicholas Gasson as the irritating wordsmith Spooner, aka socks and sandals man, Joel Spacey as Foster and Graham O’Mara as Briggs.
The cast may be small but that doesn’t detract from the world of dark comedy and subtle power games the play exudes through the use of power and language. The four bring the production to life.
Director Michael Cabot believes the play is about memory and the absence of memory, alcohol and age.
I wasn’t sure if it was about dementia, alcohol abuse or mental health issues but the conversation in the toilets explained something.
One of our number explained she had seen 23 of Pinter’s productions in the last year and said No Man’s Land meant different things to different people – it’s how you interpret it; another said it was too highbrow for her and she was none the wiser. The third said she enjoyed all of his plays and her fascination remained intact.
The last word however goes to my sister-in-law who sent a text later. “I went to Mr Google to try and understand the play a little more. Think I do now? It has encouraged me to try and see another sometime.”
My sentiments exactly.
The play is on at the Devonshire Park Theatre until Saturday October 19.