no man's land by Harold Pinter, directed by Albert Schultz, with Peter Donat, William Hutt, Michael Hanrahan and Stuart Hughes. Presented by Soulpepper at the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). Runs in rep to August 23. $28-$46, stu $25. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Set in a single room in a North London mansion, Harold Pinter 's No Man's Land is no typical mystery play. There are suggestions in the text of a death by drowning, but the intriguing work's more about the death of a certain era. The real mysteries concern the characters. Who are they? Can we believe what they say? When the actors are of the calibre of William Hutt and Peter Donat , it doesn't matter whether all the narrative strands connect. The two convey other worlds, and through their precise utterances - subtly directed by Albert Schultz - Pinter's look at wealth, old age, class and charity comes alive.
Hutt plays Spooner, a poet/painter who's met his host, Hirst (Donat), earlier that night at a pub. Or were they in fact students together at Oxford, as is suggested in the second act?
There are also hints of marital infidelities, professional one-upmanship and maybe a whiff of homoeroticism, something that's underscored by the menacing appearance of two of Hirst's employees ( Stuart Hughes and Michael Hanrahan ) in this female-absent work.
Less accessible than some of Pinter's other plays - Betrayal, Old Times - No Man's Land takes some work, but by the end its uncompromising examination of two men at different ends of the economic scale nearing the winter of their lives leaves you with a definite chill.