At the centre of Dyer and Williams’ deft and complex script sits Michael’s eulogy for his father. Still high from last night’s bender, Spall delivers a stunningly candid and caustic speech to his mum and sister Carly. It’s the only moment when Dyer shrewdly stages the scene in proscenium. Michael is left alone in bleak lighting, as he grapples with his dad’s adamant ‘nationalism’, his strong Brexit stance, and the racism he showed to Michael's best friend, Delroy.
But more than anything, Michael struggles to know what he himself believes. That leads him to discover a whole other version of his father, a man who was also desperately seeking answers, even if at times in dangerous places. Dyer and Williams brilliantly articulate how race and class intersect and diagnose a sobering reality for the nation. They do so, however, without condemning any singular character. They reveal the deep contradictions that run in everyone even as societal battle lines seem permanently drawn.
There are some plot points that seem underdeveloped and unresolved, but they hardly matter because of Spall’s mighty performance. It’s a vigorous, exhausting display that masterfully blends humour, empath and anger. Death of England skillfully shows how difficult yet absolutely necessary it is for the Fletchers, and for all of us, to own the often pernicious legacies of our family, and our country.
|What||Death of England, National Theatre review|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
31 Jan 20 – 11 Mar 20, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£15 - £61|
|Website||Click here to book and for more information|