Sunday afternoon in an English country house. A distinguished academic sits in his favourite arm chair, rendered catatonic by age, surrounded by his surviving sons and relations. As tea is served and the children play in the garden, his sons decide to candidly reveal their innermost thoughts and secrets. What follows is one of the starkest examinations of mortality, grief and despair ever to be performed on the London stage.
‘To embody death convincingly on the stage is one of the hardest things for a dramatist to do: Mr. Gray has here managed it in a way that, paradoxically, makes life itself that much more bearable.’ – Michael Billington, The Guardian.
Close of Play was first presented at the National Theatre, London on 24th May 1979 with the following cast:
JASPER – Sir Michael Redgrave
DAISY – Annie Leon
HENRY – Michael Gambon
BENEDICT – John Standing
MARGARET – Lynn Farleigh
JENNY – Zena Walker
MATTHEW – Adam Godley or Matthew Ryan
Director: Harold Pinter
Designer: Eileen Diss
In October, 1979 the same production played at the Theatre Royal, Bath
Evening News Review of Close of Play
“[A]n economic, devastating and brilliantly ironic picture of the obsessive hold of family bondage long after the decay of love.”
Peter Lewis, Daily Mail
“It is Mr Gray’s vituperative wit and snarling cynicism that converts a catalogue of family disasters into a fascinating dissection of contemporary concerns.”
Milton Schulman, Evening Standard
“Imagine yourself, if you can, an old man paralysed as in a nightmare. The other people in your dreadful dream are your family, yet you are powerless to help or even communicate with them. You could be any elderly person, but in the context of Simon Gray’s profoundly disturbing new play at the National you are a retired and distinguished professor.”
Felix Barker, Evening News
“To embody death convincingly on the stage is one of the hardest things for a dramatist to do: Mr Gray has here managed it in a way that, paradoxically, makes life itself much more bearable.”
Michael Billington, The Guardian
Close of Play was published as a Faber Contemporary Classic in Simon Gray: Plays 3 on July 7th 2010. To order a copy on special offer at 25% discount please contact Faber using code GRAYPLAYS. Or check out our bookshop.
Close of Play is also published in the following editions:
Key Plays (Faber and Faber 2002 ISBN 0-571-16223-1)
The Definitive Simon Gray Volume III (Faber and Faber 1993 ISBN 0-571-16453-6)
Close of Play (Methuen 1980 ISBN 0-413-469-603)
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