Death of England: Delroy @ The National Theatre (Online Stream) Review

Death of England: Delroy is good, and while occasionally losing the vulnerability its predecessor achieved, it has a rawness that brings home the weight of racism and prejudice in England.

The show opens with Delroy (Michael Balogun), detailing the installation of his ankle monitor, and we are greeted by a charming, confident yet shaken man. In his initial distressed standup, questions of national identity and racism are alluded towards and establish as the unspoken backdrop for the show.

Alone onstage, we follow Delroy through the birth of his first daughter, a confrontation with his previous best friend and finally a court scene. The dramaturgy is compelling, the structure of the story is often unexpected and its deviance from conventional narrative arcs make for a compelling turn of events.

I always think that what isn’t said on stage can sometimes be the most interesting part of a show. Clint Dyer and Roy Williams are deserving of credit for, on the whole, knowing what to say and what to leave unsaid. And while the audience is at times told what to think, they leave enough space for the audience to question assumptions and prejudices.

The design is outstanding, Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey‘s set and costume design and Pete Malkin‘s sound design set the context for the show, with small yet striking contributions which detail the core intentions of the play.

Thematically, stylistically and scenographically, the influence of Arinzé Kene’s Misty can be felt strongly, and this is where the strength of the show is. Delroy’s physical and linguistic imagery is compelling and complex, he questions himself and seldom finds a comfortable answer.

This is a show about racism and while the show is non-naturalistic, it is grounded in a brutal reality. Delroy is wrongfully detained by four police officers, and while he is released without charge, Dyer and Williams do an excellent job in detailing the extensive impact events such as these have on someone’s life.

Balogun is for the most part nuanced and captivating as a performer. However, he occasionally loses the character and our immersion is lost. The show covers a lot of ground and perhaps Dyer and Williams lose some of the intense emotional vulnerability the first show Death of England thrived on. 

Overall, I think this show is definitely worth watching, it is also worth saying that I watched this on Youtube and much like the previous show, it was driven by the atmosphere in the space, so my review is limited by the experience I had on my sofa. It is great storytelling, Balogun is a little clunky; his introspections can feel forced, but his performance is insightful and drives this well written, excellently designed show.  3.5/5

Review written by Tom Carter.

Death of England: Delroy was shown on Friday 27th November on YouTube. To find out more about the show, visit here…

For the review of the original show Death of England, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop