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No Man’s Land 

When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 31 2013
Price: $35-$135
With a cast like Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Billy Crudup, and Shuler Hensley, it's a no-brainer that this production of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, now in production at Berkeley Rep, trains its focus squarely on its actors. With the exception of a few dramatic lighting flourishes and some distractingly Seventies costumes, the production clears away anything that could prove a distraction from the people on stage. McKellen nails the role of Spooner, a rambling eccentric with a vocabulary as elevated as it is dirty (he speaks of a past lover's "predilection" for "consuming the male member"), with impeccable comedic timing and an almost Vaudevillian flair. Stewart's Hirst, meanwhile, is typically more grave, giving the august actor plentiful opportunities to command the stage with lines booming and bleak, like fists shaken at an existential void. Along with the two younger men, this duo propels a postmodern-leaning play that is thin on conventional plot but singularly perceptive about the fundamentals of human nature. It's Pinter at the height of his powers, played by some of the few people who could pull that off.
— Alex Bigman


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