No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby starlight » Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:19 pm

Me again. "Peeling layers off the onion", to quote Lynne.

Give me a medal, someone, for I have just sat through the whole of No Man’s Land . Never again. I did it out of loyalty to His Kitchen-ness, but OMG, it was tantamount to serving time. My sympathies go out to all involved.

So lynch me, jillybean. You love the play, I know; the casting’s so replete with talent it’s theatrical bedazzlement, but (gaah!) three years in this play? Did he really do three years? *smacks forehead* Poor lamb! And in those tight trousers?

Image

ayresorchids, mistress of judicious, ladylike understatement, had this to say when we discussed No Man’s Land earlier:
I can tell it is a play of abstract, avant-garde genius, but I still dislike watching it.

Thank you, Chris. I think that Pinter could have found a well-placed Anglo-Saxon epithet or two to describe his own effort. He packs enough of those into the last half hour of NML.

The drama (strike that—NML is not dramatic) doesn’t start out quite so raw.

Image

We’re treated to a dose of Spooner (Gielgud in a cheap suit, looking like an anorexic Sir Les Patterson, and sounding, well, like Gielgud - which already makes him too posh for the role)—Spooner nudging conversation to its nadir in a cut-glass accent:
Do you orfen heng about Hempstead Heath?

and
I nevaah peep on sex!

To say that it’s a static play is not a criticism in itself, but in an effort to prevent the actors getting cramp from standing still too long, there’s really too much filling of full glasses going on. And the reason that the glasses are still full is, frankly, that the monologues don’t leave the actors any time to drink what’s poured before the next hiatus means it’s time to pour another one.

The version that I’ve watched is (I believe—Lynne might correct me) 1978. The spell in live theatre had been done, and they were all back for a last blast to preserve the “moment” for posterity.

There are, to be fair, some very funny lines, but they struggle hard against the edginess of atmosphere. My favourite, however, was Spooner’s:
I think, after quite half of my pint had descended, never to be savoured again...

Surely tempting fate, since many a pint has come back to haunt the intemperate.

Eventually, I concluded that the play was a retaliation against (Spooner’s words)
...a particularly repellent herd of lickspittling literati

—very likely a raspberry blown in the face of pretension. Well fine, but did Pinter have to make it 90 minutes long? I’d like to think their Knighthoods had a job to keep a straight face through proceedings.

It struck me that the play was reminiscent of The Servant in its theme. A bit of digging told me that I shouldn’t be surprised, since Pinter wrote the screenplay for that film, as well. Then just a bit more digging told me Pinter went to RADA for a spell, but dropped out after finding it too snooty. Now I’m left wondering whether, in some measure, his revenge was to go off and pen a play to blight the lives of generations of alumni of that noble institution ;o)

All of which, in retrospect, makes MK’s line as Foster heavy with dramatic irony:
I get all the gold. Nobody offers me dross.


Starlight :rose:
Last edited by starlight on Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby dcfoylefan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:49 pm

I've managed to make it through part one. (Of course I fast forwarded through all but MK's part.) Even his vagabond trousers aren't making up for Pinter.

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby FancyFoyle » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:05 pm

Starlight,

Just came through the link you posted on your tumblr site. First of all, thank you for having the courage it must have taken to post this. I saw the same version of No Man's Land, the 1978 film of the play.

I agree with your review.

Hey, don't judge me people! :lol:

Once I got past the obviously "tongue-in-cheekiness" (LOL) of the whole thing, I nearly enjoyed it. I say nearly because even MK in the cast couldn't do much to redeem this drivel. It just went on and on, ad nauseam....tedious, to say the least.

But the trousers......Lord, have mercy! :cloud9:

but (gaah!) three years in this play? Did he really do three years? *smacks forehead* Poor lamb!


Three years of this? Poor lamb, indeed! I can only surmise that MK enjoys/enjoyed Harold Pinter's work, since it isn't the only time he's performed in something Pinter had a hand in. He wasn't that desperate for roles, surely! Pinter wrote the screenplay for The Trial, in which MK played Block, currently one of my favorites of his performances. It had the same surreal, Alice In Wonderland feel to it, especially the vague dialog that only the characters in the film could fully comprehend.

I'm all for art making people think, but some of us are not used to having to work this hard to understand what we're seeing and hearing. Perhaps I'm too much a member of the hoi polloi to understand. I have a difficult time with abstract and opaque dialog. Give me real!

What's so cool about being edgy and avant-garde anyway? Yeah, I know. It was the 70's. I was a small child in the 70's. I couldn't get it then; don't really want to now. Not even for Himself.

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Englishfan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:19 pm

Dear All....

Someone on the forum once said that Mr. Kitchen has it all. I think he might!!!!!!

You do not have to watch this play to enjoy his trousers!!!! Many fun trouser shots in several movies and TV shows to enjoy. :wink:

Perhaps there's a reason besides cold weather for that coat? :noidea:

Another reason to admire Mr. Kitchen. :thumbsup:

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Lynnedean » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:02 pm

Oh, Starlight, I do wish you'd do more reviews of this kind; you're a real treat! Gielgud looking like an anorexic Sir Les Patterson :rofl: I do understand what you mean about the way he speaks in this play, but, oh, that voice ... I do love that man's voice.

I'm pleased that someone has uploaded a good quality copy of the 1978 TV production; the first copy I had years ago was dire. Before that, all I had was an audio recording and that was even worse!

Oh, dear - Pinter! You don't have to peel even one layer off this onion to have it make your eyes water, Starlight. It's Pinter. Makes me weep every time. With frustration. Can never make a ha'porth of sense of anything he writes. And the man appears to revel in repetition. He repeats things. And then repeats them again. And then again. And again. Did I mention that he appears to revel in repetition?

I can't imagine that Mr P would have had any influence on the casting of films for which he wrote the screenplays, such as The Trial (incidentally, I suspect Kafka wouldn't have understood that bit of work, never mind anyone in the audience). I do think he will have had something to say about the casting of his stage plays, though, in which case I guess he must have appreciated Mr K's theatre work, as, also in 1978, Our Boy was in the stage production of The Homecoming , with Tim West, and in 1981 he starred alongside Peggy Ashcroft and Maurice Denham in the three-character play Family Voices, which was produced for both stage and BBC Radio 3 in that year. I've not seen The Homecoming, so I can't comment on that, but I can say of the radio version of Family Voices that it was an excellent example of Mr P's extremely esoteric work, and it didn't surprise me one bit that back in the early 80s it was broadcast on the somewhat highbrow Radio 3!

Of course, there are very many - probably Mr K among them - who consider Harold Pinter to be King of Playwrights (he was, after all, a Nobel Prize winner :puzzled: ). Everyone to his/her own. I just don't get it. :noidea: I have to say that when I hear people praising him, it does smack to me of it being a case of the emperor's new clothes. And now I've probably offended someone. If so ... sorry ... please just ignore me.


Oh, while on the subject of play recordings ... nothing to do with Mr K, but anyone who likes the Bard should go to The Globe website and order DVDs of the recordings of that theatre's 2010 productions of King Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. It's stupendous! And, biased as of course I am because I love the guy's work, I'll mention that Roger Allam won the Olivier Award for his performance as Falstaff. :D A taste ... The Globe: Henry IV Part 1: Act 2, Scene 4
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Jillybean » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:03 pm

It seems I might be the only woman on earth who actually enjoys this play, except Pinter’s widow (on a Pinter documentary) says she couldn’t understand what’s not to like.

I have to admit, the first time I watched NML, it was easy to understand why most are not fond of it. The first viewing was made of me saying:

“Kitchen looks good in those trousers”
“Did Kitchen just say the ‘c’ word?”
“Foster misses the girls in Bali, yet he also appears to be gay…is he?”
“Ok, what is happening, I don’t understand what's happening?”
“Oh dear, Kitchen said the ‘c’word again!”
"The end?... Eh, what just happened?"

But after watching the play over and over, each time I found I enjoyed it more and more. I found something new that would amuse me or I would spot a different view of Briggs and Foster’s relationship or that of the other men. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, but there do appear to be a few communication levels going on and it’s a lot of fun finding them.

I really enjoy the nuances in their mundane conversations and pontifications, such as anything relating to Hirst’s ‘album’. And does Spooner pretend to know Hirst from the past just to secure a position as his emmanuensis? And if so, why does Hirst play along with it? I don’t know if Hirst is actually clever and playing the game, or just clever, still drunk and can’t remember anything and wants to just have some fun.

I’m fond of the Foster character and strangely not for the obvious reason of Mr K and his trousers. I think he’s flawed, he appears to have bags of confidence about “how much he is loved by all” and “how people take an immediate shine” to him, yet he also feels the need to declare this whenever Spooner come across as a threat. I’m sure Foster does miss the girls in Bali, but I think his loyalty to Hirst outweighs that. For example, Foster’s (almost desperate) speech about “I didn’t have to leave, I didn’t have to come here, but I was called” comes at the point where Spooner is practically begging for a job with Hirst. So I can’t help but feel sorry for Foster as he clearly has aspirations beyond making the ‘salmon or is it eggs’ breakfast, but the thought of losing his position with Hirst worries him.

And who doesn’t like the interplay between Foster and Briggs, especially the Derek and Clive-like spat over the champagne.

I’ve also become a fan of Pinter’s other plays and as difficult as some (such as The Homecoming and Birthday Party) are to watch, I can’t help but love the way Pinter writes. His plays present more questions than they answer. It’s almost like all the unsaid words are there but we just need to look for them.

I missed the chance to see the recent production of NML - David Walliams played Foster and from what I’ve read, did not dazzle the public or the reviewers. I can just imagine Walliams playing the role a little too camply, whereas I think Kitchen pitched it just right. I don't think playing the same role for three years would have affected the ‘filmed’ version in 1978, surely they would still have had rehearsals to keep their ‘game up’?

As the cliché goes, you either love it or hate it... I could have just said that at the beginning and saved myself some time :wink:

But I still cringe at the 'c' word... :sad:
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby kitchentease » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:47 pm

It seems I might be the only woman on earth who actually enjoys this play
I'm with you on this one, Jillybean. You couldn't have described my first viewing more accurately but it really does grow on you. It's hard to get past MK in those tight trousers :biggrin: but if you close your eyes and listen there's a lot to find. Perhaps Pinter won a Nobel prize precisely because he doesn't rub our noses in what he wants to say and leaves it up to us to find what we want to hear? :puzzled:
But, what does the brain matter....compared to the heart?
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Englishfan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:50 pm

Um,

What happened to the trouser discussion?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :wave:

Just kidding. If you want to discuss theatre, fine!!!!!!

But I know you are thinking things you aren't writing!!!!!!!!!!!!! :obsessed:

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby amiga » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:17 pm

Englishfan wrote:Um,

What happened to the trouser discussion?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :wave:

Just kidding. If you want to discuss theatre, fine!!!!!!

But I know you are thinking things you aren't writing!!!!!!!!!!!!! :obsessed:

Englishfan


Jump in a cold shower, EF. That's what I do....it works :lol:

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby starlight » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:23 pm

Ooh! Lovely responses. What a great discussion this turned out to be. All trouser references are a "given". On to the rest.

dcfoylefan wrote:You deserve a medal and a cookie.

Ta. Especially to the cookie.

FancyFoyle wrote:I'm all for art making people think, but some of us are not used to having to work this hard to understand what we're seeing and hearing.

For me, it was just a tale of 3 beetles fighting over a ball of dung. No more complex than that. But it went on too long. The rest was Pinter enjoying himself with the English language.

Lynnedean wrote:I just don't get it. :noidea: I have to say that when I hear people praising [Pinter], it does smack to me of it being a case of the emperor's new clothes.

Well, I've seen Betrayal. That was tolerable. Can't speak for the rest of his plays, but this one felt as if the playwright was taking the mick. Honestly.

On to Jilly, who likes it.

Jillybean wrote:The first viewing was made of me saying:
[blahblahblah "trousers” :eyeroll: ]
“Did Kitchen just say the ‘c’ word?”
“Foster misses the girls in Bali, yet he also appears to be gay…is he?”
...
“Oh dear, Kitchen said the ‘c’word again!”

The 'c' word used by men of men bothers me less than perhaps it should. That might disappoint Pinter. As for the gayness of the characters, they all appear to be gay to me. I don't find the heterosexual references and protestations convincing. I suspect that Foster's Balinese women aren't. And I don't mean Balinese. Foster, I would say, loves to be loved, and I can't see that the sexual particularities of an encounter would bother him.

Jillybean wrote:I really enjoy the nuances in their mundane conversations and pontifications,...

Pinter is a wordsmith and no mistake.

Kitchentease: another fan.
kitchentease wrote:... if you close your eyes and listen there's a lot to find.

Yes, he's deep, all right. But if there's too much attitude coating your insights, most people are alienated, so you've failed (just my view). Still, you and Jilly went back for more...

Englishfan wrote:Um,
[blahblahblah "trouser discussion” :eyeroll: ]?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :wave:

amiga wrote:Jump in a cold shower... :lol:

Its a fair cop. Those vagabond trousers get the last word.

Thanks for all the fun.

Starlight :rose:
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Jillybean » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:25 pm

kitchentease wrote:
Perhaps Pinter won a Nobel prize precisely because he doesn't rub our noses in what he wants to say and leaves it up to us to find what we want to hear? :puzzled:



Exactly! What's left out is just as important as what's left in.


Englishfan wrote:Um,

What happened to the trouser discussion?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :wave:

Just kidding. If you want to discuss theatre, fine!!!!!!

But I know you are thinking things you aren't writing!!!!!!!!!!!!! :obsessed:

Englishfan


Oh the trousers are always interrupting the thoughts :biggrin:
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby starlight » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:31 pm

Jillybean wrote:Oh the trousers are always interrupting the thoughts :biggrin:

Trousers are on Tumblr. Behave. :lol:
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Englishfan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:44 pm

Jillybean!!!!!

I knew there were others out there who appreciated ALL of Mr. Kitchen's virtues!!! :thumbsup:

Now we can discuss theatre....or trousers.......I'm okay with both!

In fact: Stay CALM and CARRY ON!!!!!! :pleased:

British advice, isn't it?!!! Now I get it!!!!! CARRY ON!!!! :rofl:

EF!
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby amiga » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:46 pm

starlight wrote:
Jillybean wrote:Oh the trousers are always interrupting the thoughts :biggrin:

Trousers are on Tumblr. Behave. :lol:



Knew there had to be a reason I watched No Man's Land twice. :wink: :oops:

I fhink "Moves Like Jagger" might apply here.

Sorry to get you off this very intellectual discussion to which I have nothing to add, other than I did watch it twice. That should count for something.

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Englishfan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:57 pm

amiga wrote:Sorry to get you off this very intellectual discussion to which I have nothing to add, other than I did watch it twice. That should count for something.

Amiga


Wouldn't the reason you watched it twice trump the fact that you DID watch it twice?! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: I would give you 1/2 credit!!!!! :eyeroll:

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby starlight » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:05 pm

Do I need to remind you...how much you can trust me?
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Jillybean » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:15 pm

Englishfan wrote:Jillybean!!!!!

I knew there were others out there who appreciated ALL of Mr. Kitchen's virtues!!! :thumbsup:

Now we can discuss theatre....or trousers.......I'm okay with both!

In fact: Stay CALM and CARRY ON!!!!!! :pleased:

British advice, isn't it?!!! Now I get it!!!!! CARRY ON!!!! :rofl:

EF!


Ooh happy to keep calm and carry on a discussion on King Lear and MK's pantaloons! :thumbsup:
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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby Englishfan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:18 pm

No Man's Pants is hysterical!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no idea how your create those pictures, but they are adorable...in a certain sense!

And "filled his pants" is a bit awkward!

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby amiga » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:22 pm

starlight wrote::eyeroll: No Man's Pants


ROFLOL :rofl:

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Re: No Man's Land - "The Skinny"

Postby FancyFoyle » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:48 pm

For me, it was just a tale of 3 beetles fighting over a ball of dung. No more complex than that. But it went on too long. The rest was Pinter enjoying himself with the English language.


It would appear that you've summed up the play very nicely here. Perhaps I am the one who has tried to read too much into it. I kept thinking "there must be more to it than that. What am I missing?".

I'm also wondering, too, if I'm missing so much because I am an American. Just because we speak a loosely similar language and ya'll sired us, doesn't mean we can understand what it is you're trying to tell us.

Admittedly, it has been some months since I viewed No Man's Pants...er, do beg pardon...No Man's LAND, so my memory is a bit how's-your-father. And honestly, I think I deleted it from my memory cache as soon as it was over.

All except the trousers, that is. Those are etched indelibly onto my mother board.
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