Review – No Man’s Land by Pinter, Duke of York’s Theatre

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Act 1: An October Night. A rather grand living room in Kentish Town or possibly in Vauxhall.

Two quite old men meet for the first time. Or have they already met? Or do they in fact meet at all?

SCHOONER is standing (albeit somewhat unsteadily).

THIRST sits staring into space enigmatically. The lights come up. There is a long silence.

Then another, longer one.

[At this performance the parts of SCHOONER and THIRST are played by Andrew and Phil respectively]

Schooner: Hello, haven’t we met before?

Thirst: Yes…(pause)… No. Would you like a drink? Help yourself.

Schooner: (long pause) What would you like to drink?

Thirst: As it is….

Schooner: (pours drink) Didn’t I see you last night at the Duke of York’s Theatre? At that dreadful old bore Pinter’s play?

Thirst: Possibly. No Man’s Land ? Possibly not.

Schooner: (pours drink) Yes. (pause) Rubbish wasn’t it?

Thirst: I rather liked it. (pause) Rather clever and poetic use of language I thought. Have another drink old chap. Saw it years ago with Pinter himself, he’s a bloody good actor too. What’ll you have?

Schooner: (pours drink) I’ll join you in whatever you’re having. You’re a poet then?

Thirst: (pours vodka chillingly) Yes…no. Are you?

Schooner: Yes…(pause)… no. But I did like that Harry Potter chappie, the ersatz Dumbledore, Michael Gambon. Bloody good acting and another Cranford alumnus you know. And that other Harry Potter fellow David Bradley who bloody nearly stole the show.

Thirst: Awful lot of drinking in it, though. Nobody drinks that much.

Schooner: The West End Whingers do.

Thirst: (expressionless) They friends of yours too? Pair of c**** aren’t they? Have another drink old boy (pours vodka menacingly). So you liked it then?

Schooner: Did you just say c**** for effect?

Thirst: If you think so. So you liked it then?

Schooner: Good God, no! Bored my bleedin’ pants off. Hard to keep awake. Had to get a bloody drink at the interval to get through it. £11.60 for two glasses of wine! Bloody outrageous! Pinter? Never again.. never. (Drinking even more heavily and slurring) And that Little Britain man David Walliams – a bit wooden, what? Disgraceful.

Thirst: Thought he was rather good myself, West End debut and all that. Rather well cast. Odd cove, rather suited the role (pours whisky). Didn’t get it though, what it was all about and all that.*

Schooner: (silence) Didn’t care, just wanted it to end…

Thirst: Your life? (pouring a huge whiskey). Let me help you. That Rupert Goold directed it, he did The Glass Menagerie, we liked that a lot.

Act 2 Morning

Two new characters [FOSTERS and SWIGS] enter. One wears a menacing blazer the other has menacing gloves on. FOSTERS draws back the blinds. Very strong, menacing daylight. SWIGS is pushing a menacing hostess trolley with breakfast on it.

Schooner: (eating scrambled eggs off the hostess trolley) Did we ?..(long silence)..but I’ve never met you before. Did you meet my mother? Used to cradle me in her arms with a malevolent look.

Thirst: (pouring another whiskey) I shagged your wife you know. Gave her a bloody good rogering. Bunty Whingestanley had her, I had her, we all had her.

Schooner: Didn’t think you were the sort old boy. (pause) Lovely bosoms my wife, hair, lips, buttocks…legs…Have another drink old man.

Thirst: (Tries to get up then falls to the floor, tries to get up again, knocks over the chair then gets up and stumbles to the bar.) Never met her. (Pouring yet another whiskey menacingly) Rather surprised you married though, thought you were bent… do I know you?

[Silence… more silence, Thirst and Schooner stare enigmatically. Warm light fades very, very slowly.]

Healthy applause from the audience.

Footnote 1

* What was it about? Well, you will all be familiar with Verna A. Foster‘s seminal The Name and Nature of Tragicomedy in which he or she contends that

Hirst is imprisoned, mataphorically in “no man’s land” (a stasis between life and death, the play’s imagery suggests, possibly representing artistic impotence), and literally by his lower-class and sexually opportunistic servants, Foster and Briggs. Hirst, under the influence of Foster and Briggs, rejects Spooner and relapses into “no man’s land,” where it is always winter and the subject will never be changed again.

We are none the wiser really. And much more interesting are Ms Foster’s ratings on which are:

  • Average Easiness: 3.0
  • Average Helpfulness: 3.4
  • Average Clarity: 3.7
  • Overall Quality: 3.5
  • Hotness Total: 0

Sample reviews from students:

Despite her posh English accent, she isn’t snobbish at all. In fact, she’s very nice; she just has a frown as a default facial expression.

This was my favorite [sic] class all semester. Its not too hard at all.

she’s very knowledgable but likes to talk alot.

Footnote 2

We finally got to meet Simon Russell Beale’s biggest fan Simone (aka Feigned Mischief) who insisted on having her photograph taken with the Whingers.

We liked her a lot but were quite disturbed to learn that she has foregone a couple of shows (for which she had already purchased tickets) after reading our reviews of them.  For a moment we were horrified by the notion that we might have some responsibility for other people’s cultural choices.

But then she told us that the plays in question were Fram and Afterlife so actually we are her saviours.

10 Responses to “Review – No Man’s Land by Pinter, Duke of York’s Theatre”

  1. Sue Says:

    Sexually opportunistic? Really?

  2. Sue Says:

    And yes, Bravo!

  3. Abigail Says:

    But Afterlife was GOOD! Don’t listen to them, Simone!
    Nice review though.

  4. Michael Says:

    Never listen to ANYONE who doesn’t find “The Norman Conquests” funny – and sad.

  5. Meaghan Says:

    Well… I’m not entirely sure if that was supposed to convince me to go or to stay home, but I still think after that review I’d really like to see it.

  6. Simone Says:

    I would have preferred to see the play that starred THIRST and SCHOONER really! This is HYSTERICAL you guys! Well done, and yes, BRAVO!

    This is definitely one of my favorite reviews and not because I was there but it is just so entertaining – you guys should really be compensated for your talents and let’s start with that Friends scheme. Oh, and I hope to see you at the theatre again soon but please dont leave it until my Simon Russell Beale comes back for The Bridge Project at the Old Vic! By the way I just booked Waste last night based on your glowing reviews, where do I send the royalty fee?

    @ Abigail: I thought about that as well, I very rarely get influenced in that way it’s just that I have booked so many plays but was starting to get exhausted (I know it’s all self-inflicted) so from now on I will wait till I book anymore and the WEW has done me a good service.

    @ Michael: I am still watching The Norman Conquests, just not have booked it yet.

  7. Josh Says:

    Awful play. Marvellously acted, although Walliams was slightly bizarre. Am curious as to what Pinter was thinking.

  8. […] since, apart from seeing a number of plays, one of which I had the privilege of finally meeting the West End Whingers, I have officially moved out of my flat after living there for over 3 years, have gone and returned […]

  9. Roy Grainger Says:

    I have never read a review on this site before but thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t find the No Man’s Land review in the slightest bit funny unfortuately, bit it’s hard to pastiche Pinter when he does the job himself so amusingly.

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