General English


  • noun an area of ground between the forward positions of two opposing forces


  • (written as No Man's Land)
    A play for four characters by Harold Pinter. Firstperformed in 1975 at the Old Vic, it subsequently transferred to Wyndham'sTheatre and then to the National Theatre. The play was directed byPeter Hall and starred John Gielgud as Spooner,Ralph Richardson as Hirst, Michael Feast as Foster, and TerenceRigby as Briggs. The critic Michael Coveney called Gielgud and Richardson'sperformances "the funniest double-act in town." There have beenseveral West End revivals, notably a 2008 production starring MichaelGambon.

    The plot centres on two men in their sixties, the penniless poetSpooner and the wealthy literary figure Hirst, who meet in a pub andreturn to Hirst's home. There they drink and chat and ramble on untilHirst collapses. Foster and Briggs, members of the same homosexualhousehold, then enter and attend to Hirst, showing hostility to Spooner'spresence. Briggs locks Spooner in the room overnight. When he recoversthe next day, Hirst becomes convinced that Spooner is someone he hadknown many years previously at Oxford. The two men recall mutual friendsand lovers, until Hirst suddenly declares that he once had an affairwith Spooner's wife. The play ends with the two men continuing towander through their no-man's-land of memory and fantasy.

Idiom of “no-man’s-land”

area of uncertainty or sometimes of danger; grey area