The first production of No Man’s Land opened at the National Theatre (when it was based at the Old Vic Theatre) in 1975 and starred Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud. It then transferred to Wyndham’s Theatre.
Legends of stage and screen Patrick Stewart (X-Men) and Sir Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings) return to the West End in Harold Pinter’s comic tour de force No Man’s Land.
No Man’s Land unites two ageing writers Hirst and Spooner for one night of hard drinking and fast talking. As the alcohol continues to flow and the stories continue to pile up, Hirst and Spooner’s animated discussion takes a darker turn and two menacing younger men turn up to join them.
Patrick Stewart said of the show: “I saw the original production of No Man’s Land three times in one week at (London’s) Wyndham’s Theatre and would have seen it more if I could have afforded the tickets. I made a promise to myself that one day I would play Spooner or Hirst but to be doing it with Ian McKellen was a fantasy I never entertained.”
Ian McKellen added: “Playing Spooner to Patrick’s Hirst on Broadway was a constant joy, which is why I am delighted to be back with him in the UK.”
Sir Ian McKellen, knighted in 1991 for his services to the performing arts, is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, having been honoured with more than 40 international awards for his work on stage and screen.
He received Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild awards for his outstanding portrayal of Hollywood director, James Whale, in Bill Condon’s ‘Gods And Monsters’ (1998).
Sir Ian was born in the north of England on 25 May 1939, the son of a civil engineer. He first acted at school and at Cambridge University, where he studied English Literature and appeared in 21 undergraduate productions, before performing in repertory companies. He gained a reputation for his powerful portrayals of characters, from Richard II to Napoleon and Hamlet.
His film career began with ‘The Promise’, ‘Alfred The Great’ and ‘Thank You All Very Much’ all in 1969.
In addition to ‘Gods And Monsters’ and ‘Richard III’ (1995), Sir Ian’s numerous credits include ‘Bent’ (1997), ‘Jack And Sarah'(1995), ‘Apt Pupil’ (1998), ‘And The Band Played On’ (1993), ‘Six Degrees Of Separation’ (1993), ‘Last Action Hero’ (1993), ‘X-Men’ (2000) and ‘Scandal’ (1989).
Perhaps his biggest role in recent times was that of Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of JRR Tolkein’s epic trilogy, ‘Lord Of The Rings’ (2001-2003). He earned an Oscar nomination and an award from the Screen Actors Guild for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his work in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’.
In 2006, he enjoyed huge success as ‘The Da Vinci Code’s’ Sir Leigh Teabing, a rich and eccentric expert on Holy Grail mythology, who aids colleague Tom Hanks in his attempt to unravel a worldwide conspiracy involving secret Christian sects and albino killers.
He has since voiced Zebedee in ‘The Magic Roundabout’ (2005) and in ‘Doogal’ in 2006. In 2005, Mckellen tried his hand at soap acting and appeared in ten episodes of ‘Coronation Street’.
In 2007, he narrated the fantasy film ‘Stardust’ and lent his voice to ‘The Golden Compass’ before returning to Shakespeare by acting in the TV movie ‘King Lear’ as the title character in 2008.
McKellen then appeared in ‘The Academy’ parts one and two in 2009, which was followed by the miniseries’ The Prisoner’. After appearing in a series of shorts, McKellen has reprised Gandalf. He is portraying the wizard in Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ in 2012 and its sequels.
This is not the first character that he has returned to as he played Magneto again in ‘X2’ in 2003 and in ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ in 2006, as well as ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ (2014).
Sir Ian is a co-founder of the UK pressure group Stonewall, which lobbies for equal legal and social rights for lesbians and gay men in the UK. He famously went for tea at Downing Street to discuss gay rights with then prime minister, John Major.
A member of various local drama groups from about age 12, Patrick left school at 15 to work as a junior reporter on a local paper. However, he quit when the Editor told him he was spending too much time at the theatre and not enough time working.
In 1957, he was accepted by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966, to begin a 27-year association, and made his Broadway debut in Peter Brook’s production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 1971. Work on television picked up soon afterwards, with Patrick playing the villain on the BBC series, ‘I, Claudius’, in 1976.
He received an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor for ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ in 1979. Following a spell with the Royal National Theatre in the mid 80s, he went to Los Angeles where his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the ‘Star Trek’ series brought him international fame. He has appeared in a number of high-profile blockbusters including ‘Dune’, ‘Excalibur’, ‘LA Story’, ‘The Pagemaster’ and ‘Doc Savage’.
In addition to his work in theatre and film, Patrick has also been in demand as a voice-over artist for recordings, adverts and documentaries. He has hosted or narrated the science series ‘Space Age’ and the study of Native Americans called ‘500 Nations’. He also lent his voice to the character of Napoleon the pig on the animated adaptation of the George Orwell classic ‘Animal Farm’ in 1999.
A playwright as well, Stewart has adapted several literary works for the radio and stage and has enjoyed particular success in Los Angeles and New York with his one-man version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, in which he played more than 30 roles.
In 2000, he was awarded an ‘Order of the British Empire’. That same year he returned to Broadway as the star of ‘The Ride Down Mt. Morgan’ and starred in the original ‘X-Men’. Then he starred in ‘Star Trek Nemesis’, provided a voiceover for ‘Jimmy Neutron’ and reprised his role as Charles Xavier in ‘X-Men 2’ and nearly every subsequent movie connected with the X-Men franchise!
No Man’s Land is at Wyndham’s Theatre until 17 December