Review: No Man’s Land, Leeman & Stephenson Productions, John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, York, until Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

IF there is a point to Harold Pinter's ticklishly difficult 1975 play, it is the one sticking out at the front of the stage designed by Peter Ling.

After end-on, thrust, proscenium arch, traverse and in the round, Leeman & Stephenson Productions' debut show introduces the triangle, or "The Toblerone" as you might call it.

It serves to divide the perspective of the audience, whose views will be as different as those expressed by the four contrary protagonists in Pinter's psychological drama. It might even be fun to have everyone swap from one side to the other for the second act.

Before then, should you be worried about not understanding what on earth may or may not be going on, consider this quote: "There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false."

Was it said by President Trump ,defining "fake news" on this week's state visit? No, Harold Pinter first wrote it in 1958, then aired it again as the opening to his Nobel Lecture in 2005. Fact.

Enigmatic No Man's Land most certainly is, but these are the foundations of a play built on constantly shifting sands: Spooner and Hirst are two men in their sixties; they are both writers; they both drink too much.

On this particular summer evening in 1975, after meeting at a pub, they have settled in for the night at the orderly Hampstead abode of Hirst, a successful man of letters, played with a potent cocktail of disdain, mystery and swagger by Rory Mulvihill.

Our narrator is the loquacious Spooner (Ian Giles, ever so arch), a failed poet, who, in a nutshell, wants what Hirst has: the comfortable North London house, champagne for breakfast, the servants (Adam Sowter's Foster and Neil Wood's Briggs), even if they are more than a tad odd and intimidating. All he has to do is inveigle his way into Hirst's affections to become part of the furniture.

Nothing is that simple, however. We are in the midst of four equally unreliable witnesses, and just when you think you may have a grasp on what's happening, this slippery eel of a play eludes your grip once more.

Hirst and Spooner may have shared a past under Oxford's dreaming spires, or maybe not. Foster and Briggs, the Pozzo and Lucky to Hirst and Spooner's Estragon and Vladimir in Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot, are a disruptive presence amid the discursive chatter of the two writers, but are they Hirst's servants, or more sinisterly, are they his captors?

Occupying a discomforting place between past and present, imagination and reality, is No Man's Land merely an elaborate wheeze, a churlish charade, whose ambiguity will stretch into post-show pub discussions. You decide!

Under such baffling circumstances, the crux of any production is not the decoding of any possible meaning, but taking the surest path through the thicket to that finale, and here Giles's highly capable cast brings out the twisted comedy and the rising menace in equal measure.

Who is in No Man's Land by the end? Your reviewer , dear reader, will leave you in limbo to mull over that one.

Charles Hutchinson, writing from his own no man's land.