August 1985

It is a summer night. Somewhere in the environs of Hampstead Heath, a man called Hirst, formerly a successful writer, now by his own admission sterile, returns home from the pub with a man called Spooner. The latter is an itinerant observer of people and places, the former maintains only a precarious dignity on the tram-lines of alcoholism. Hirst lives in high style with his manservant Briggs, and his secretary, Foster. They are all men of "intelligence and perception", and together they inhabit No Man's Land.
The play has a highly polished surface of verbal fantasy which is stubbornly resistant to rational analysis - all of the characters, it would seem, are compulsive liars and nothing they say has the value of literal truth. However this masque of mendacity and the play's admirable clarity of structure conceal "a deep and dark architecture" of old age, loneliness, and the sustaining power of the human imagination. Nothing happens, and Pinter's debt to the Theatre of the Absurd is obvious but not obtrusive, for the play's real power derives from the characters' command over language, which is virile and energetic, sometimes to the point of obscenity.
The ticklish issues of recognition and past knowledge which the play evolves are amusing and suggestive but not so important as Hirst and Spooner would have us believe - the former's memory is an impossible labyrinth of nameless faces, and in the words of the latter, "experience is a paltry thing.. The present will not be distorted". For our purposes, the three men who make each others lives possible have been dancing their ghostly gavotte since time began.
In the end Spooner is absorbed willingly into their timeless world of poetic friction, where no change is felt or admitted, and the play which began as a comedy of manners converts itself into a solemn music of almost liquid transparency, as the spectator falls back into the world of unharmonious reality.



Spooner - Michael Bewick
Hirst - Daryl Brown
Foster - Gregory Hooker
Briggs - Martin Plummeridge

Directed by Daryl Brown