(seen at the afternoon performance on 24th September 2016).
to see two great actors giving their all, to create such depth of character.
Take a bow, Oven Teale (Biggs) and Damien Molony (Foster). You wouldn't want
breakfast (particularly coffee) from the former, though you could be friends
with the latter... not recommended either. These two roles, of henchman and
accomplice provide both the tensions and visual comic relief that set perfectly
the stage for the other pair of stooges who appear to think themselves centres
Ian McKellen (Spooner), an impoverished poet getting by on tuition and past
glory, and Patrick Stewart (Hirst) the wealthy patron losing grip on reality
(and, at one point, almost on his own laugh reflex) are theatrical knights who
create a night not easily forgotten in this tale of a night where little is
Words tumble out as anecdotes, thoughts and taunts, half formed or deeply
significant. Baffling yet informative, confusing yet of diamond clarity.
Someone unfamiliar with theatre would be quite justified in labelling the
whole event "a pretentious load of old w**k," and would be right. For it could
be. Indeed, its quite possible the characters themselves are simply engaging in
this contest for exactly that reason.
Those who go to the theatre more regularly may take another view - that "it
is whatever you feel it could be." The monkey takes this path, with the
belief that "No Man's Land" ('never changing) is the afterlife, and that this is
a play concerned with mortality alone. It would say that
the first half is actually a musical - two old men singing songs of their past
- even hymns at their funerals - to a death signified by the end of act one. The second half is a
Faustian struggle in the afterlife with the death that has arrived. Remembrance of power, and
loss of it, as devils feed the argument.
Some wonderful set-pieces, always glorious delivery from the two leads and
strong supporting cast with immaculate staging make this a classy theatrical
event in the West End. Worth catching.