Harold Pinter always avoided giving 'explanations' of his often ambiguous plays. As he said, 'I can sum up none of my plays. I can describe none of them, except to say: That is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did'. The action of No Man's Land is simple: a shabby stranger is invited into a Hampstead writer's home. From there, Pinter examines the themes which recur throughout his work the fallibility of memory, the co-existence in one man of brute strength and sensitivity, the ultimate unknowability of women, the invasion of territory.
After its 1975 Old Vic premiere, it was for some time one of Pinter's least revived plays, although regarded as one of his masterpieces. This may have been due to the daunting thought of following in the footsteps of the amazing first cast which included two theatrical giants. John Gielgud (left) as Spooner, the beer-stained invader, was 'superbly sly, mellifluous and ingratiating', and Ralph Richardson played the writer, Hirst, with 'precisely that other-worldliness that makes this actor such a magician' (reviews from The Guardian).