I was not previously familiar with this Pinter play, but the current production, directed by Sean Mathias, completely disarmed me. Though set entirely in a drawing room, watching it is like entering a farcical dream-space that is tinged with something dreadful just beyond the shadows. Nothing really happens, but everything seems at stake.
The two Sirs—titans of the screen though they may be—are enormously enjoyable to watch and listen to in vivo (ably seconded by Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley as Hirst's man-servants/ bodyguards), since the play’s dialogue is delicious and musical, and their plummy, Shakespeare-trained voices and exquisitely nuanced physical choices can be savored in the intimacy of the Roda Theatre. (In the preview performance I attended, even McKellen's occasional first-act slip-ups--calling for prompts with a subtly inserted "Yes" rather than the usually disruptive "Line?"--served to remind me of the high-wire thrill of watching artists performing in the moment.) The production is here for just a few weeks, en route to Broadway where the cast will perform it in repertory with Waiting for Godot.
I came home and immediately found that the original National Theatre (London) production with the legendary John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. Watching it didn’t diminish my appreciation for the current production at all, and in fact made me marvel at how fresh and mysterious the play continues to be nearly 40 years later. Catch it if you can.