No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land @ The Lyceum

When you sit in the Lyceum theatre and are faced with two of the greatest actors in the world, it’s nearly impossible to be balanced in your response. Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are giants of their trade, flitting between screen and stage and owning both equally. Any attempt to critically evaluate their acting prowess would be like a minnow offering hunting advice to a shark. Suffice to say, they are really, really good.

‘No Man’s Land’ is Harold Pinter’s absurdist comedy about two old men who meet one night and begin to reminisce about their lives over copious glasses of Scotch and Champagne. It’s a funny and tragic tale, open to multiple interpretations, and demanding of an audience who may not be comfortable with the lack of structure and clear conclusions. Those coming to see Gandalf and Professor X thrash it out live on stage (something which I confess I secretly hoped for too) may well be frustrated by the intense philosophising and extensive monologues.

NO MANS LAND by Pinter, , Writer - Harold Pinter, Director - Sean Mathias, Set and costumes - Stephen Brimson Lewis, Lighting - Peter Kaczorowski, Sheffield, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson

McKellen and Stewart beautifully bring to life these aged characters who find themselves caught In the proverbial ‘No Man’s Land’, caught between life and death, facing reality and yet uncertain of what comes next. Even in the inevitable frustration of trying to work out what it all means – and honestly, I’m not sure anyone can truly claim a full understanding of this play – it is undoubtedly a formidable work; a rich character piece, driven by funny and deeply moving dialogue (“in the last lap of a race I had long forgotten to run”) brought to life by two of the finest actors on the planet. A real treat by anyone’s standard.

Ali Bianchi

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