Filmed inside the National theatre during the pandemic, ‘Death of England Face to Face’ intertwines both film and theatre to bring Delroy and Michael’s story to life.
Having watched Delroy’s story at the National and visited the set of Death of England Face to Face, I was very excited to see how the third sequel would be adapted to film and also how Delroy and Michael’s stories would unravel.
Written by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, the three-part story has had audiences gripped since the first play was shown in 2020. The film is not your typical TV drama. The two lead characters Delroy (Giles Terera) and Michael (Neil Maskell) poetically narrate their story of events that take place on one evening. The two actors also become the voices of several other characters that are featured in the film.
“What I loved about this play was how current the topics were. I could relate to many issues both characters had faced but sympathised heavily towards Delroy”.
The film tells the story of Delroy and Michael, two best friends who have very different experiences of being British. Delroy, is a black British man who has just had a baby girl with his girlfriend Carly. Although having a newborn should be the most exciting time of Delroys life, he is restricted from seeing his daughter. With the pandemic causing a country-wide lockdown and an electronic tag forcing him to be locked in his flat, Delroy is frustrated at his life. Meanwhile, Michael, a white British man has just become an uncle. His sister Carly (Delroy’s girlfriend) has just given birth to a baby girl and Michael is excited to be a part of her life and the future.
Struggling with a newborn, Carly begs her brother Michael to take her baby outside to give her some quiet time. Michael reluctantly takes his niece from Carly and decides the best thing he could do in this situation is to surprise Delroy with a visit from both him and the baby. What starts out as a nice surprise for Delroy turns out to be a disastrous evening, as conversations turn sour, and fights break out inside of Delroys flat.
‘Death of England Face to Face’ not only tells a very realistic story of the British experience from two different races, it also highlights extremely real and relevant topics; from Brexit to Black Lives Matters, no current issues were left out. What I loved about this play was how current the topics were. I could relate to many issues both characters had faced but sympathised heavily towards Delroy.
Delroy is haunted by his father in Law’s racist views – from telling Carly not to be with a black man to hurling racist remarks at Delroy, he struggles to understand why Britain hates black people so much. With George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement, Delroy is left asking the question of why God allows black people to suffer so much. Like many black British people, Delroy has faced racism throughout his life. Although he was born and raised in the UK, he is often left questioning his British identity.
Conversely, Michael, who when younger would happily spew out racist remarks, now has a black best friend and mixed-race niece. Being forced to reflect on his past allows him to be aware of his wrong doings. From the play to the film, we can see the mental journey Michael has taken and how much a new baby can change how he sees other races. His journey is similar to some of the realisations people experienced after the murder of George Floyd.
Just like Delroy, it left me asking the question – Why do black people suffer so much?
When George Floyd was murdered, it exposed the systemic racism within the justice system and forced people to look at their own actions towards black people. Although George Floyd’s murder shocked the world, it left many black people feeling traumatised. As a black woman, I was left frustrated and angry after watching a man being murdered in broad daylight. Just like Delroy, it left me asking the question – Why do black people suffer so much?
Both Michael and Delroy performed outstandingly. They both embodied their characters well and were extremely believable. Delroy was determined, passionate and vulnerable. Michael was honest, conflicted, and frustrated. Both characters were equally powerful and toxic. Both had stories that would captivate an audience.
‘Death of England Face to Face’ is a great film and left me in deep reflection over Britain and what it means to be British. It was full of emotion and truth. It made me laugh, made me sad and left me wanting more.
It is an important film that has topics that will leave many people in deep reflection and to me that is what makes a great drama.