Had a lovely evening at the Duke of York's watching a playful preview of Pinter's No Man's Land, which opens next week. The main delight is watching Michael Gambon and David Bradley deliver a virtual masterclass in acting, ably supported by Nick Dunning and work in progress David Walliams.
Gambon, playing the alcoholic recluse Hirst, is a unique actor, a link back to a grander style, but somehow he has the ability to cloak his poise, power and treacle rich voice in a display of effortless credibility. Bradley supports magnificently as the birdlike Spooner, rarely still, never silent, moving surreptitiously behind the other characters as he looks for the right opportunity to inveigle his way into a permanent position in the household.
The show has already had a run at the Gate in Dublin and there's a sense that the production is ready for the press a few days ahead of schedule. This became particularly evident in the second act when Gambon repeatedly tried to use his right leg to make Bradley corpse. Bradley defended admirably and the result between the two great actors was an honourable draw.
It's the second Rupert Goold show to open in the West End in the last month and he's now in rehearsal with Pete Postlewaite for Lear in Liverpool, has Romeo and Juliet coming up at the RSC - as well as the new version of Oliver! at Drury Lane.
I sat next to him for the first act ... but he disappeared after the interval, which made me wonder whether he was usefully using the time. Perhaps he went to knock off an adaptation of War and Peace in the foyer or an ice spectacular musical theatre version of the Koran in the broom cupboard?
No space or text is safe from Rupert just at the minute - but I guess whilst the sun shines it's time to make hay.
Gambon, seeing the empty seat in the stalls, did just that!