Finally learned where this photo was taken. Seems Michael Kitchen was among the audience at Harold Pinter: A Celebration, a star-studded tribute held at the National’s Olivier Theatre on
June 7, 2009 for the then recently deceased Nobel Prize winning dramatist. MK went dressed as John Farrow complete with a yacht club tan. Attending the event must have brought back some incredible memories for him:
To think MK’s now almost the same age John Gielgud was when Pinter’s
No Man’s Land premiered, and 40 years after sharing the stage with the acting legend, he is at the end of his career rather than the beginning. Sadly, time creeps up on us all.
(A photo of MK attending the 2000 South Bank Show awards can also be seen on the Redux image site.)
Photos of Michael Kitchen as Lenny, “the violent East End pimp“, from the program of the 1978 West End revival of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming. Gemma Jones, who played Ruth, had recently achieved TV stardom for her brilliant turn as Louisa Trotter in The Duchess of Duke Street, one of my favorite TV series. “The less you know about actors, the better — that’s half the game,” said Jones in an interview with the NY Times. Her fellow RADA alum and costar in
The Homecoming would no doubt agree. Would have loved to see them act together — and share a memorable kiss on stage. (I see Charles Kay was also in the production. Recently watched him play a sadistic headmaster in another BBC classic, To Serve Them All My Days.)
I still don’t get No Man’s Land, but I do enjoy reading articles about it that shed some light, like this entertaining NY Times piece with Christopher Plummer ( ❤ ) and Jason Robards, who starred in the 1994 revival on Broadway.
And via KT comes onemanz.com’s excellent review of the latest Broadway revival of No Man’s Land starring Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, a production which apparently rivaled the original:
With the supporting roles filled by Michael Kitchen and Terence Rigby, even the recording of the original production is an English language equivalent of listening to a string quartet performing a timeless piece of classical music. So much so, revivals have never quite done the work justice, until now.
Thanks, KT, for sharing the review and also for alerting me to the video setting!
Some of my favorite shots of Michael Kitchen as Foster in the filmed production of No Man’s Land.
(Image: Radio Times, Jan. 18, 1981)
Speaking of celebrated writers I personally don’t get, here’s an audio clip from the Harold Pinter radio play, Family Voices (1981), that reunited Michael Kitchen and Peggy Ashcroft less than a year after their wonderful collaboration in Caught on a Train. MK’s character describes in letters to his mother his bizarre experiences living in a rooming house, including having tea with a girl who juggles a stray bread bun between her toes while her feet are in his lap. 😕
Last week in a staged reading at Trafalgar Studios, Joanna Lumley and Andrew Scott took on the roles originated by MK and Peggy Ashcroft. Dan Woolery Photography captured them during the dress rehearsal:
In an article in the Evening Standard regarding the event, JL talks of her passion for Pinter, declaring that she saw No Man’s Land 14 times. I’m guessing her passion at the time for a particular actor in the play might also have had something to do with her repeat viewings.
Michael Kitchen played the character of Foster in another Harold Pinter work, No Man’s Land. The stage production premiered in London in 1975 before Michael Kitchen replaced Michael Feast in limited engagements in Toronto (Sep. 13, 1976 – Oct. 9, 1976), Washington D.C. (Oct. 11 – Nov. 6, 1976), and on Broadway (Nov. 8 – Dec. 18, 1976). The cast then returned to London for a final five-week run in early 1977. Fortunately, prior to the show closing it was filmed for posterity and later broadcast by the BBC in 1978. This clip from almost the end of the play is the best part, in my lowbrow opinion.
The play was pretty inscrutable to me. But that may be because I skipped over all the scenes of drunken rambling, i.e. most of the play as far as I could tell.
From a review in the Village Voice (Nov. 22, 1976):
…the new boy, Michael Kitchen, is an inventive and potentially powerful comic actor, with great suppleness of emotional color.
And from the AP in November 1976: