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South East
posted/updated: 11 Apr 2019 -
No Man's Land
Harold Pinter
society/company: Lighted Fools Theatre Company (directory)
performance date: 05 Apr 2019
venue: The Mill Studio, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre,Guildford
reviewer/s: Jeff Thomson (Independent review)

Harold Pinter's work has been described as 'the comedy of menace' and his play No Man's Land certainly projects unease. It's a journey into the landscape of a mind but the startling question is, whose mind? Is it Harold Pinter's, the director's or the watcher's? David Hemsley-Brown, as director, kept me guessing at the Mill Studio last week. His approach for the Lighted Fools production was satisfying as it twisted and tightened.
No Man's Land seems to demand an interpretation but Pinter sets a trap; is it a drama? Is it a comedy? Is it psycho-sexual exploration? Could it be all three? Probably.
The play opens with two men and a blatant pick-up close to Hampstead Heath!
Hirst (Richard Parish) has enticed a man back to his home and reveals himself as a dominant alpha male to Steve Alais' submissive Spooner but just as we position the 'arrangement' Spooner's intellect kicks-in and the question arises as to who is really in charge?
Pinter teases with certainties and then demolishes them. Watching this play is not a passive entertainment.
A strong cast was in support with Nick Lund swaggering through as Foster - is he a Pimp? Rent Boy ? Escort? Pinter describes him as 'a vagabond cock' but Lund offered a back-story that hinted too at psychopath.
David Webb, as Briggs the butler and bouncer, dry-cleans Hirst through his drunken excesses; his directions to Bolsova Street "Turn left, then right, pass the office block with a crescent courtyard …." deftly exploited Pinter's strong lyrical input.
Richard Parish anchored the production with a finely calibrated performance but Steve Alais, as the diffident Spooner, had the role, had the director and had the evening.


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