“No Man’s Land” at ACT

And so we come to the final play in ACT’s Pinter festival. “No Man’s Land” skillfully directed by Penelope Cherns, is a play even more confounding than “Old Times.” But once again, don’t ask what it means. Soak in it. Let the biting humor seep in. Let it pour over you. Experience it and enjoy the poetry of the language as well as the fine acting of this production, then ruminate afterwards.

This play, too, takes place in a house in the country, this, though, is quite an elegant house, home of Hirst, a successful writer (Frank Corrado). Pinter who is always precise in depicting the nuances of English class structure has two men of distinctly lower class (Peter Crook and Benjamin Harris) serve, and perhaps service, him.

Hirst has brought a visitor home from the pub, Spooner a failed poet, played by Randy Moore. Their drunken, somewhat absurd encounter makes up the play. Again memory is fickle. What’s supposedly the past can or cannot be true. “As it is?” asks Hirst when offering his guest a drink. And these words might serve as slogan for the entire play. What exactly is as it is?

Randy Moore plays Spooner as a sad little man, more vulnerable, less heartless than John Gielgud played the role in the original 1974 production (a video version is available on Google). The portrayal makes him more pitiable. Corrado’s Hirst is a strong man broken. Both are trapped in no man’s land. “Will nothing change forever?” Perhaps, thought Pinter, that’s the fate for all of us.

We who love the theatre owe a debt of gratitude to ACT for offering us four Pinter plays in this summer festival. Few cities have the wealth of acting and production talent to pull it off or the theatre management willing to take the risk on works that are too often regarded as box office poison. There’s only one week left of this rich assemblage of plays. If you love theatre, you shouldn’t miss all or part of the experience.

Through August 26 at ACT, 700 Union Street, Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

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