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Death of England: Closing Time


4 Soho Place, London W1D 3BG 0330 333 5961

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  • Synopsis
  • Theatremonkey show opinion
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From 15th July until 28th September 2024
Audio described performance: 30th August 2024 at 5.30pm.
Captioned performance: 29th August 2024 at 7.30pm.
Signed performance: 31st August 2024 at 1pm

The family shop is gone. Denise and daughter-in-law Carly are left to sort the family out.

Clint Dyer and Roy Williams delivered the final, stand alone, part of the "Death of England" series. 

First seen at the National Theatre in 2023, this play is presented as part of the trilogy it became with "Death of England: Michael" and "Death of England: Delroy" also included in the season.

Note that it is possible to see all three shows in sequence on 24, 31 August and 7, 14, 21, 28 September 2024.

From the previous production at the Dorfman Theatre. The cast has now changed.
(seen at the afternoon performance on 11th October 2023)

The final chapter in a series of four plays staged by the National Theatre (Covid permitting) over the past three years. You do not have to have seen the previous ones to understand this one, but it you have not (the monkey missed the middle two) then reading the programme will fill in the background of our two protagonists.


Carly (Hayley Squires) is 36, from a White working-class East End background. She is married to Delroy, who is Black. Carly’s father was an active racist but eventually he and the rest of the family reluctantly accepted the situation. Carly and Delroy have a 3-year-old daughter.

Carly has teamed up with Delroy’s mother Denise (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) and raised money from friends, family and the bank to open a café together.

Unwise drunken hen night comments by Carly were shared on social media. This has resulted in a boycott leading to dramatic loss of custom for the café, and the play takes place in the final hours before the café closes for good.


Writers Clint Dyer and Roy Williams attempt to hit as many targets as they can in this farewell to the family they have created. The problem is that the policy leaves little time to develop any single idea satisfactorily, and most of them have in any case been discussed at length in many other works elsewhere.

The major issue, however, is a central failure of logic. If the family are committed financially to a business, why do they allow a boycott and neglect that will destroy it? That is never discussed unless we are to assume that sensitivities to racism are so high that all must be punished to such degree and in such a self-destructive manner. Given the intelligence of the characters, that feels an unlikely course of reasoning.

As director, Clint Dyer opts for a slightly manic pace, particularly in the first half as the actors spend as much time rushing around the auditorium, “breaking the fourth wall” to interact with the audience as they do delivering fragments of story.

The second half is calmer, mostly monologue. Not static, and the key storyline arrives fully, with an ending downbeat and oddly hopeless.

Designers Sadeysa Grenaway-Bailey and ULTZ replicate the first play’s “crossed catwalk with shelves” set, Jackie Shemesh animating it with excellent projections and sudden spotlight shafts.

Hayley Squires - in her attractively coloured tracksuit - has the benefit of full rehearsal and charges around with the considerable vigour of a young mother and career woman.

Her delivery at key moments combines pain with practicality, her confused apology spinning out of control as heart writes cheques her intellect cannot cash. She’s a survivor deserving a second chance that is not forthcoming.

Sharon Duncan-Brewster stepped into her role at the last minute, and had played barely five performances by the time the monkey saw this. Wisely, she chose to learn the complicated moves of the play, allowing the words to come later. Thus, she performs either script in hand or reading captions off a screen.

It is fair to say that Duncan-Brewster has a very special talent. Despite the limitations, she builds a deep and recognisable character, adding expressive layers and revealing where and how she adapts to fit each family and community situation encountered.

It is this last which makes the play interesting and raises it above its own slightly disorganised construct. Bringing together the idea of a nation which itself adapts to situations and representing it as a family unit is a concept justifying the National Theatre’s faith in the series. It may have proven harder to realise than expected, but Dyer, Willams and their various collaborators deserve recognition for trying.

The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.

8pm: 24, 31 August 2024; 7, 14, 21, 28 September 2024.

7.30pm: 22, 23, 27, 28 August 2024; 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 September 2024. 

2.30pm: 29 August 2024.

Note that it is possible to see all three shows in sequence on 24, 31 August and 7, 14, 21, 28 September 2024.
On these dates performances of “Michael” begin at 1pm, “Delroy” at 4.30pm and “Closing Time” at 8pm.

Runs 2 hours 15 minutes approximately, including 1 interval.


Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.

Some details will change, the monkey will update as available.

Note that if booking all three productions in the season together, "premium price" and "top non-premium" price tickets are reduced to £56 / £49.50 per seat, if purchased in a single transaction on the venue's website, using the "CLAIM PROMO" button, not the usual "book now" button when purchasing.

Sohoplace Theatre prices seating plan



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