Saturday, 13 August 2016

A Knight to Remember

Normally I would use this blog as an attempt to sign people up for Live for 5 by chatting about the latest play I’d seen. Well, I hope that I will still be able to do that this time even though there are no more tickets left for this play – let alone Live for 5 tickets! The play I am talking about is No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter with the two lead roles being filled by two Knights of the Realm – Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart! This was the hottest ticket in town and I’m pretty sure half of Sheffield is going to the theatre over the course of the week. These two men could literally talk about toilet paper and people would still pay the money to go! You might remember from a previous blog post about my own experience trying to get these tickets on the day that they were released to the public back in March and, as I found out over the course of this week by doing some work experience with Sheffield Theatres, we were very lucky to get them when we did. I think for every performance, the theatre was full! So, although the run in Sheffield is now drawing to an end, No Man’s Land continues to tour round the UK and remember that if you are in Sheffield and aged between 16 and 26, then sign up for Live for 5 and you could see legends come to the theatre for just a fiver!

The joy when we first got the tickets!
The play itself was actually surprisingly funny – I’ve never seen or read a Pinter play before but he seems to be of a similar ilk to Beckett. I didn’t expect to laugh quite as much as I did – I was more expecting a dramatic conversation between two men rather than a comedy. But the timing and the chemistry between all four of the actors really kept the play fast paced and witty. From my point of view, I thought the play was all about memory and senility and set in the 1970s in a grand old house which I took to be like a care home, though none of the characters ever said as much. I’m not going to lie, I was never really too sure what was going on but I think the point was that the audience just sees a snapshot of these men’s lives at the moment that they intertwine – it’s not a complete story. The best way I can describe the plot (with a little help from Wikipedia!) is Spooner (Ian McKellen), a down-on-his-luck poet, is invited back to Hirst’s (Patrick Stewart) grand house after a night of drinking at the pub and becomes his house guest. In the morning, Hirst becomes adamant that he knew Spooner whilst at university and begins to reminisce about mutual acquaintances. All the while Briggs and Foster (Owen Teale and Damien Molony), Hirst’s man servants, also join in on the drinking and interrogate Spooner about his identity and his friendship with Hirst. It seems like such a complex plot for a play set in one room of a house and it is a very wordy play but the chemistry between the actors helps the audience to keep afloat of what’s happening.

Speaking of the actors, obviously Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were great! I mean, I think everyone was there at the theatre because of them (myself included) but Owen Teale and Damien Molony were also brilliant! Owen Teale was great as a slightly terrifying man servant and bodyguard – I think that has to be the most aggressive “we’re out of bread” I’ve ever heard, made even better with the frilly apron! Damien Molony as Foster actively encouraged Hirst’s drinking because it kept him in his position of power and he would try to move all obstacles so it would stay that way. Molony played Foster as a ‘Jack the lad’ type but one who ultimately just wanted power and leverage – which, you know, brought a bit of dark humour into things.

No Man’s Land is a witty play about, well, nothing and everything! And Sean Mathias’ version really brings that to light with the failings of human memory, whilst, you know, the comedic timing stops the audience from falling into the dangerous trap of an existential crisis! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a bit of a slower – though still funny – evening at the theatre and for anyone wanting to see stage and screen legends! Though be warned, tickets will sell out very fast for this one!

You can follow No Man’s Land on Twitter (@NoMansLandPlay) for updates about the tour.

Stay tuned here for a Lady Chatterley’s Lover update (Live for 5 tickets available!) in September and for any random adventures I might go on in the meantime!

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