Friday, 15 November 2013

No Mans Land, Cort Theatre, Broadway

And so we come to the end of our Broadway odyssey with a shameless Star vehicle. "No Man's Land" is a two-star vehicle, with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart uniting for Harold Pinter's 70s play featuring a lot of scotch drinking and intemperate thought.

Occasionally I'll watch productions of plays that I've read but not enjoyed simply to see whether they go better in the staging. And I'll confess, Pinter's plays of subtle-menace often slip into the "too subtle for me to notice" on the page. Productions of "The Birthday Party" and "The Caretaker" in the past, for instance, have made a somewhat dry reading experience come alive into something much more three dimensional.

Alas, this production doesn't really do that. I'm not sure if it's because Pinter is writing something a lot more cerebral, or whether it's simply a case of there not being very much there to begin with.  Either way ... yes, this is a story about two men, one wealthy, one not, both literary men, who meet one evening and keep on drinking, and talking, and find it difficult to disengage from one another. There's a sense of the losses that come with age, of the uncertainties before death, but that's about it - there's not a lot of plot development going on.

Stewart and McKellen give it a fair go - McKellen gets most of the lines in the first half, rabbiting on extensively while Stewart gets the occsional "oh", and "good" to react with - and they draw out a fair bit of humour from the extreme vagueness of the action (about ten minutes in, McKellen realising that he hasn't even let Stewart know what his name is yet, for example). In support roles, Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley are suitably menacing (and sound suitably English) but ... this still remains a distinctly unengaging evening. I can say I've seen Stewart and McKellen. I can't say I enjoyed it.

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