Thanks to their excellent, lockdown-spanning National Theatre at Home project, the temporary loss of the National Theatre hasn’t felt as heavy a blow as it could have done. Still, life is far better when the venerable theatre is back in business, and happily that date will come before the year’s end – as the National Theatre have announced plans to reopen with a brand new play in late October.
Whilst late October (an exact date is currently TBC) feels like an inordinately long time to wait, a) I think we’re all used to waiting for nice things by now and b) it’ll be a delight to have the National Theatre back regardless of how long it takes.
The theatre’s return will be led by a timely bit of theatre – a new play from Clint Dyer and Roy Williams called Death of England: Delroy, which will be housed in the National Theatre’s main auditorium, the Olivier Theatre, to allow for plenty of social distancing.
National Theatre is reopening
The play is the sequel to a previous NT production; critically-acclaimed predecessor Death of England played at the venue’s Dorfman Theatre earlier this year, as Rafe Spall delivered a powerful one-man exploration of British identity, racism, and football. Mentioned at certain points of that monologue was the character’s black friend, Delroy – to be played in this production by Hamilton star and Olivier Award winner Giles Terera – who’ll now front his own one-man show, exploring what it means to be a working-class black man in the UK in 2020.
Expect a searing, necessary examination of racial politics and structural inequality from this show, a production which incidentally will make Dyer and Williams the first black British playwrights to have a feature-length play at the Olivier Theatre. It’s a play very much for the present moment, and with the theatre scene facing an uncertain future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the return of the National Theatre is likely to be more crucial than ever.