19th October 2016
Writing: Louis Williams (Year 13)
Photography: Johan Persson
Editing: Thomas Fleetwood-Law (Year 11)
While it was a chilly autumn evening in Trafalgar Square, the warm fire of anticipation burned bright in the hearts of a 50-strong cohort of Theatre Studies and English students ranging from Years 10 to 13, who talked excitedly about the prospect of soon seeing Gandalf and Jean Luc Picard take to the stage in Harold Pinter’s perplexing yet mesmerising No Man’s Land at Wyndham’s Theatre.
Despite their successful careers in film, with most people recognising the pair from features such as X-Men or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sir Ian MckEllen and Sir Patrick Stewart are also highly distinguished stage actors, and the overall opinion of the students after the performance was to agree with this opinion.
The play itself is a classic absurdist play written by Harold Pinter in 1973 and is one of his most acclaimed works. The plot situates around one room of a house in which lives Hirst (played by Sir Patrick), who as far as we know is a wealthy, predominantly drunk older man, and accompanied by Briggs - rough around the edges with above average cooking abilities - and Foster - a well-dressed younger man described as a poet. Both characters work for Hirst in a way not wholly specified. The play focuses on the introduction of a new character, Spooner (played by Sir Ian), who joins the trio on Hirst’s drunken request and is yet another ambiguous character. As it is with Pinter, it is not always clear what is going on, but whatever it is, it is always captivating to watch.
The stage was a circular room cloaked in a wall of empty picture frames, with a modest bar residing pride of place in the centre of the floor. An ominous leather armchair only to be sat in by Hirst stood apart from the two other pieces of furniture in the room, both of which were small chairs. Despite the aforementioned modesty of the set, it is simply a testament to the acting of all four men, who managed to hold the attention of the audience with ease for the 90 minute showtime.
The performance culminated in a harrowing, weighty five minutes which had the audience leaving with a sense of thought-provoking melancholy and a lot to talk about. All in all, a great evening out.
Thanks for Mr Flower for organising the trip, and to all the teachers who came along to help keep track of the small army of students loose in London.