Review – McKellen and Stewart joust in Pinter’s No Man’s Land
Resurrected with new life, the two-act drama of misaligned memory that is Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land provokes peels of spontaneous laughter, continually disrupting the unsettling tension that weighs upon the audience at the Cort Theatre, on 48th St. near Times Square.
Starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and staged by director Sean Mathias, theirs is an affectionate production, bringing together two of the greatest speaking voices of our age to revel in the language finely formed by that most deft of English sculptors, the late Harold Pinter.
And yet, it is the characters’ spontaneous human behavior that tickles the audience, even as they are denied the sort of artificial exposition provided by other playwrights. In No Man’s Land are found no bread crumbs laid down to help explain what is going on.
“Pinter’s insistence that the audience remain an outsider who becomes aware of lives and conversations well after they began, and which leaves them long before reaching any definitive conclusion, is nowhere more obvious than in this play. With immediate prior circumstance barely mentioned, but memories from long ago recounted in vivid detail, he creates four souls who interact in anything but perfect harmony, and with two of the roles requiring champion actors to subtly conjure the weighty icebergs floating just below their visible surface.”