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No Man's Land

soi-disant

hirst spooner sir play

a play by Harold Pinter, first performed in 1975. The play mainly involves the relationship between the rich and reclusive alcoholic Hirst and the shabby soi-disant poet, Spooner, roles respectively played by Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir John Gielgud in the original production at the National Theatre, in London. Hirst brings Spooner home, having apparently met him on Hampstead Heath. He plies him with whisky and, himself more and more affected by drink, proceeds to identify and almost certainly misidentify him as ‘Charles’, a friend from a past clearly more alive for him than the present. There follows a bizarre conversation about their sexual adventures, in which Spooner accuses Hirst of having seduced his wife. This appears to be part of the former's attempt to inveigle his way into the latter's memories, hence into his life, hence into a position of security and power in his household. This becomes overt when Spooner suddenly asks Hirst to ‘let me live with you and be your secretary’: a request never answered, but not at all to the liking of Hirst's tough-talking servants, Foster and Briggs, who have reacted to Spooner's intrusion by harassing him both physically and verbally. Whatever the eventual outcome, Hirst himself will clearly remain locked in a past that is real, imaginary, or both: ‘no man's land, which never moves, which never changes, which never grows older, but which remains forever, icy and silent’.

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