We round up the reviews for Clint Dyer and Roy Williams’ latest play at the National Theatre.
WhatsOnStage: **** “The first half feels slightly too long, but then the narrative twists and grips, pushing forwards to a conclusion that is tentatively optimistic. As Carly, Squires is wonderfully convincing, hair pulled back tight, fingers jabbing the air, pugnacious and buoyant, reluctant to examine her folly because she is fearful of what it might expose. As Denise, Duncan-Brewster conveys the dignity of the long-suffering, but mingles it with a vibrant willingness to keep pushing forward, to keep reaching for the new England that is always eluding her. It’s a terrific accomplishment all round.”
The Guardian: **** “The play finds its footing by the second act and is well worth the wait, with some hair-raising set pieces. Revved up, both actors bring riotous energy, especially Squires.”
Time Out: *** “The first half is a rambling affair, with monologue and dialogue deployed as the two offer their takes on each other and their men. I’m not sure the series actually NEEDED its two male writers to throw in a feminine perspective, and certainly ‘Closing Time’ unsurpisingly lacks the razor-sharp insights into femininity that its predecessors had into masculinity. It’s hardly a slog, though: some cheeky audience interaction livens things up, and there’s a big laugh from the reveal of the name of Carly and Delroy’s baby.”
Evening Standard: **** “Every part of this raw, baggy, high-energy enterprise that kicked off in 2019 has been stymied by illness or Covid restrictions. Yet it has become an urgent dramatic chronicle of, and commentary on, the past four years. And since theatre loves an underdog story, Death of England will probably be treasured in posterity for overcoming repeated misfortune as much as for its virtues.”
British Theatre.com: **** “Although sometimes I felt there could have been more anger between them, it does beautifully attest to, as John Lennon said, that women hold up half the sky. Let down by their men, and the class system, they stand united as an unknown man approaches to remove any success they may have achieved. It completes this quartet of plays beautifully, superbly directed and written, on a strong note.”
London Theatre.co.uk: *** “The play meanders just when it might more profitably go in for the kill, but both actresses seize their set-pieces with a vigour that is quite astonishing to behold.”
The Reviews Hub: ***** “So let’s hope there may be one last lock-in, a chance to see the whole cycle staged in repertory so we can spend a few more hours with the wonderful, glorious Fletcher-Tomlins one last time.”
London Theatre1: **** “These two performers are on sparkling form and give an edge and meaning to what comes across as a rather bitter polemic.”
Culture Whisper: *** “Clint Dyer directs with flair and urgency; Benjamin Grant and Peter Malkin’s inspired sound design and Jackie Shemesh’s lighting creating a powerful atmosphere without being intrusive.”
Broadway World: **** “Some of the script meanders in places but it finds its feet in the end. Arguably that is part of its freewheeling charm. It still packs an urgent punch regardless.”
The Telegraph: *** “The final chapter in the National’s state-of-the-nation series has some great monologues – but is more flawed than the previous instalments.”
Death of England: Closing Time continues to play at the National Theatre until the 11th November.