see that in the marvellous second act in which, after a night of pole-axing drinking, hirst bounds into the room and greets Spooner as if he were a long-lost friend. It’s all a fantasy, but one in which Spooner gradually colludes.
It’s astonishing to see Sir Ian’s large, seamed features crumple into slack-jawed dismay as hirst claims he had an affair with Spooner’s wife, but, equally, it’s wonderful to see Sir Patrick’s hirst going beetroot-coloured with indignation as Spooner offers intimate sexual details of a relationship with a girl they both knew at Oxford. This is high comedy that acts as a prelude to the twilight adagio of the play’s climax in which hirst seems trapped in a no man’s land that ‘remains forever icy and silent’.
It helps that Sir Patrick and Sir Ian are good friends and