Vintage Pinter

11th November 1994 at 00:00
No Man's Land, By Harold Pinter, English Touring Theatre This astonishingly good production makes a strong case for the early 1970s as the high-point of Pinter's stage writing career.

Trevor Baxter's Spooner combines indigence with reserve and precision of utterance to call up deep wells of desperation from beneath the lines, while Sylvester Morand gives Hirst both an air of success and a strong sense of the fear of chaos surrounding it - Macbeth's "to be thus is nothing but to be safely thus" become a condition of existence. Echoes of earlier Pinter plays abound - the fantastic route map through London, the Caretaker's double act of Mick and Aston. Charles Daish is good as Foster, Peter Sproule finds both aggression and vulnerability in Briggs.

Designer Anthony Lamble, helped by Ben Ormerod's lighting, creates an elegant ice-box for Hirst's home. Simon Usher directs with due weight given each line and the spaces between words. The few moments of surprise action - Hirst's collapses for instance - are all telling, and the production combines humour and breath-holding tension as one.

Tours to Hull, Dartford and Buxton until December 3. Running time about 2 hrs. Details: 0270 501800.

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