REVIEW: No Man's Land, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until August 20
Put two names like Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart on a poster outside your theatre and you're pretty much guaranteed a sell-out.
But I’m not sure if No Man’s Land was exactly what the audience was expecting.
I wasn’t familiar with the show myself, it was simply the chance of seeing these two acting legends together on stage in Newcastle that made me desperate to see it.
What I read about the story had me intrigued.
Two ageing writers, Hirst (Sir Patrick) and Spooner (Sir Ian), meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst’s stately home.
As they become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two younger men.
As it began, there were laughs aplenty. The audience chuckled away as the overly-keen Spooner spun tales for an uninterested Hirst.
Sir Patrick’s dazed expression matched against Sir Ian’s satisfied grin made for entertaining viewing.
But Harold Pinter’s show suddenly became very strange and increasingly difficult to follow.
As Hirst sloped off to bed, a little worse for wear, Foster (Damien Molony) and Briggs (Owen Teale) show up to intimidate Spooner.
Who are they? And why are they there?
It all turns very sinister, and by the end of the first act I was absolutely perplexed.
During the interval, I assured myself that I was meant to be confused. It wasn’t meant to make sense yet, but by the end it would all come together in some dramatic realisation that would make me kick myself.
But as the second act rolled on, I found myself becoming increasingly bamboozled, and by the end, I had no idea what had actually happened.
Did Hirst and Spooner already know each other, or had they met in the pub that night?
To be honest, I couldn’t tell you – I’m still scratching my head.
Perhaps it was just me, maybe I’m the only one who just didn’t get it, but even after reading a synopsis I’m a little confused.
Maybe there was some deeper meaning that just went over my head.
The novelty of seeing Sir Patrick and Sir Ian on stage – and indeed Owen aka Ser Alliser in Game of Thrones and Being Human’s Damien – all in one show is pretty amazing.
The show will sell out on that fact alone.
No Man’s Land runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, August 20. Click here to book tickets.