Death of England: Delroy, National Theatre (online) - ★★★★ - November 27, 2020 & Spring 2021


Clint Dyer and Roy Williams' new play, Death of England: Delroy is a compelling ninety minute monologue and a companion piece to Death of England. The reconfiguration of the Olivier Theatre's auditorium into an in-the-round space with a cruciform stage works brilliantly. Aided by superb lighting and sound, Michael Balogun's high-energy performance careers along with torrents of words as he “talks faster than a Tyson Fury left hook.” Balogun doesn't miss a trick and with welcome flashes of wit he captures every nuance of the character as he toys with the unexpectedly glittering language. What is not unexpected, however, is his arrest and mistreatment at the hands of the police. When he is incarcerated in a cell, we learn that he wept constantly for four hours while his pregnant, white girlfriend was in labour. Still, her unseen brother, Michael, attacks Delroy telling him that he will never “be like us - deep down.” Delroy is unapologetically upwardly mobile and admits to voting for both Boris and Brexit, although his motives seem to be to test whether England will be able to exist without European support. It is Balogun's performance which lifts this monologue out of the ordinary but although Delroy is phenomenally charismatic, and despite our admiration for the production and performance, we never felt that we learnt anything significantly new. Theatre being what it is, perhaps the writers are preaching to the converted, but hopefully this screening will reach a wider audience. Finally, we were left pondering whether England was dying due to its disrespect for other cultures.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo © Normski Photography

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