The NT celebrates 25 years on the South Bank this year and the production is a highly significant one. In 1975, No Man's Land premiered at the National, then resident at the Old Vic, and the following year it and its cast - Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud, Terence Rigby and Michael Feast - appeared in the NT Lyttelton's inaugural South Bank season.
Considered a modern classic, No Man's Land concerns a wealthy Hampstead aesthete, Hirst, who meets a shabby and penniless poet, Spooner, and invites him into his elite circle. The play received its last major London outing at the Almeida in a 1992 production, starring the author, which later transferred to the West End's Comedy Theatre. In the new NT production, Corin Redgrave will play Hirst and John Wood Spooner.
Redgrave has recently been seen at the National in The Cherry Orchard, In Extremis/De Profundis and Not About Nightingales, for which he received Best Actor nominations from the Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk Awards. His other theatre work also includes Macbeth, A Song at Twilight, The Romans and Some Sunny Day. His recent films include Enigma, Honest and In the Name of the Father.
John Wood last appeared at the National as AE Housman in The Invention of Love, for which he too was nominated for an Olivier. His work for the RSC includes the title role in King Lear (Evening Standard Award), The Tempest, The Master Builder and Travesties (also in New York: Evening Standard, SWET and Tony Awards). His many films include Chocolat, An Ideal Husband, Sabrina, The Madness of King George, Orlando, Purple Rose of Cairo and Heartburn.
Redgrave and Wood are joined in the cast of No Man's Land by Andy de la Tour and Danny Dyer. The production is designed by Eileen Diss, with costumes by Dany Everett, lighting by Mick Hughes and sound by Paul Groothuis.
The National is not the only British institution celebrating a landmark date this year. Pinter, regarded by many as the country's greatest living playwright, this month celebrates his 70th birthday, an event that has been commemorated around the world with major Pinter productions and other festivities, including a Festival of Pinter at New York's Lincoln Center for Performing Arts this past summer. In Britain, in addition to the NT's No Man's Land, there's a West End outing of Pinter's The Homecoming, starring Ian Holm, and an English Touring Theatre revival of The Caretaker currently underway.
- by Terri Paddock