The X-Men cometh.

In a surprising bit of news that will delight sci-fi geeks and theater snobs in equal measure, the Berkeley Rep announced Saturday night it will present the pre-Broadway premiere of "No Man's Land" starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.

One of Harold Pinter's treasures, "No Man's Land" spins a dark yarn about two writers, Spooner and Hirst, one a success, the other a bomb. Ambiguity reigns in this shadowy game of cat and mouse, which starred John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in its landmark 1975 debut.

Directed by Sean Mathias, this buzzed-about out-of-town tryout is scheduled to run Aug. 3-31 at Berkeley Rep before heading to Broadway.

"It's a great honor to welcome these gentlemen to our stage," said Rep artistic director Tony Taccone in announcing the show. —I'm sure audiences will be as excited as I am to see these spectacular actors."

In statements released Saturday night, both McKellen and Stewart said they were looking forward to coming to the Bay Area for an extended run with McKellen noting that "it's high time I played Berkeley Rep."

Although best known for their iconic roles in pop culture juggernauts, both actors boast impressive stage credentials. McKellen, hailed by fanboys for playing Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" as well as Magneto in the "X-Men" franchise, is also a consummate classical actor who has dazzled in everything from Shakespeare to Strindberg.


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Stewart, revered by nerds as Captain Jean-Luc Picard from "Star Trek" as well as Professor Charles Xavier from "X-Men," is also a Tony winner with voluminous theater credits from "Macbeth" to Arthur Miller's "The Ride Down Mount Morgan.''

The two Brits have teamed up before. They starred in Mathias' much-heralded revival of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" in London's West End in 2009. Now they plan to perform the Beckett masterpiece in a two-play repertory with "No Man's Land" on the Great White Way.

But first they will trod the boards in Berkeley.

Tickets, ranging $35-$135 (subject to change), are on sale to Rep subscribers. Seats will go on sale to the general public on May 19, 510-647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org

Contact Karen D'Souza at 408-271-3772. Read her at www.mercurynews.com/karen-dsouza, follow her at Twitter.com/KarenDSouza4 and like her at Facebook.com/Dsouzatheaterpage

'NO MAN'S LAND'
When: Aug. 3-31
Where: Berkeley Rep, 2015 Addison St.
Tickets: $35-$125 (subject to change) with some discounted tickets, 510-647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org.