Harold Pinter claimed to have gained inspiration for No Man’s Land in an image; a scene came to him fully formed and he saw the play as an exploration of its significance.
The problem with Michael Cabot’s touring production for London Classic Theatre is that there is little to add visual interest.
No Man’s Land is set in a large North London house where owner, successful writer Hirst (Moray Treadwell), is having a drink with a man named Spooner (Nicholas Gasson) after a visit to a local pub. All appears calm and jovial in the quietly sumptuous book-lined drawing room, but all is not as it seems. Spooner’s attempts to ingratiate himself with Hirst are soon thwarted by the writer’s mysterious companions Briggs (Graham O’Mara) and Foster (Joel Macey).
Bek Palmer’s naturalistic set in tones of brown, grey, taupe and beige does little to elucidate meaning and the muted costumes blend into the background. Moreover, the blocking and movement lacks dynamism; too often characters are simply standing across in a line or around Hirst’s chair rather than making full use of the space.
This does, however, force the audience to focus on the words being spoken. The cast copes well with some lengthy, wordy lines and choice phrases are delivered with gusto for comic effect, especially by O’Mara.
No Man’s Land is a complex play laden with doubt and ambiguity that demands close concentration. Cabot’s staging could have done more to maintain attention and intrigue.
This play was seen at Oldham Coliseum and is now touring until 2nd November 2019