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 as 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.)
From Sir John Gielgud: A Life in Letters a note from the actor written during the U.S. tour of No Man’s Land in 1976:
The Pinter play is a huge success, thank God, and we have packed houses and a throng of people coming round after every performance. So I feel we are very lucky indeed, though the previous month in Washington was rather a bind, too big a theatre and a sticky lot to play to.
I once saw a musical at the Kennedy Center and agree with JG that the venue is way too big for musicals and plays. I imagine for much of the audience in the theater, it would have been hard to clearly see and hear the cast of No Man’s Land. Reading about the mad stampede last month for tickets to the upcoming run of Hamilton in D.C., I wonder how many of those who managed to get a ticket will be similarly disappointed by their experience at the KC this summer.
Newly listed on eBay, the program for the National Theatre’s production of No Man’s Land at the Lyttelton Theatre which ran from January 20 – February 24, 1977 with Michael Kitchen in the cast.
As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
After a well-graced actor leaves the stage,
Are idly bent on him that enters next,
Thinking his prattle to be tedious;
– Richard II
Perhaps the case for some supporting actors but not for Michael Kitchen, who would have beguiled even if both Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir John Gielgud had left the stage.
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!
Mr Kitchen, 1978 to 2013 in under 5 seconds :o)
Under 2 seconds by my estimate – you’ve undersold yourself, jillyfern. I’m most riveted by his hair loss. Maybe because his face itself looks remarkably unchanged in the two photos.
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:
While the Ebay photo from my previous post is nice, IMO, this publicity still from the theater run of No Man’s Land is the dishiest image I’ve seen of Michael Kitchen from the 1970’s. Nice haircut, nice turtleneck, nice angle.
Photo credit: the Michael Kitchen site