Paapa Essiedu will star in the West End’s epic Death of England trilogy

Clint Dyer and Roy Williams’s Death of England trilogy – that’s ‘Death of England’, ‘Death of England: Delroy’ and ‘Death of England: Closing Time’ – have given the National Theatre a series of probing, powerful hits on the subject of racism and toxic masculinity amongst the white British working classes.

They’ve also followed an extremely strange pattern of release: the Rafe Spall-starring ‘Death of England’ was one of the last shows to finish its run at the NT before it was closed by the pandemic. ‘Delroy’ played in a socially distanced Olivier in November 2020, where it was abruptly curtailed by the second lockdown. ‘Closing Time’ ran last year, a long time after the others. In between there was a film (‘Face to Face’) with a completely different cast.

Unless you were an extremely avid theatregoer the odds of you catching all three were low, but while they were crying out to be restaged as a trilogy, it seemed like a longshot for the NT to give that amount of programming space over to shows it had put on recently.

Here though is the solution: horribly named but perfectly proportioned @sohoplace theatre is the West End’s newest theatre and the best placed to recreate the iconic in-the-round staging on the the NT shows. 

And there will be an (almost) all-new cast, headed by ‘I Will Destroy You’ star Paapa Essiedu as the troubled Delroy, Thomas Coombes (‘Baby Reindeer’) as his hopeless white BFF Michael, Erin Doherty as Delroy’s girlfriend Carly and Sharon Brewster-Duncan as Delroy’s mum Denise (Brewster-Duncan played the role at the NT, though only as a last-minute replacement). 

It will be fascinating to see whether Dyer and Williams will change anything or incorporate any of ‘Death of England: Face to Face’ in (which bridges the plot between ‘Delroy’ and ‘Closing Time’). As it stands the first two plays are monologues and if you want to see Essiedu you need to see ‘Delroy’. But seeing the three plays together is highly recommended – on the same day if you can.

The Death of England trilogy is at @sohoplace, Jul 15-Sep 28. Tickets go on sale Friday May 17 at noon.

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