Learn more about Paapa Essiedu before seeing him in 'Death of England: Delroy'

The acclaimed stage and screen actor stars as Delroy in Clint Dyer and Roy Williams's state-of-the-nation drama at new West End venue @sohoplace.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

Paapa Essiedu has been making waves ever since he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company right out of drama school, and in his varied career he has balanced classical drama with bold contemporary plays, and theatre work with some notable screen projects – including Black Mirror, Gangs of New York, and I May Destroy You.

Now he’s back on stage and tackling a blistering state-of-the-nation monologue in Death of England: Delroy. It’s part of @sohoplace’s exciting programming of Roy Williams and Clint Dyer’s trio of Death of England plays in one season – the first time that audiences have been able to experience them all at once.

This latest challenge should be no problem for the mega-talented and astonishingly versatile Essiedu, who came to wider public attention in 2020 for his Bafta and Emmy-winning turn in Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, but who has been turning out impressive performances for the past decade.

Learn more about Essiedu’s theatre career before planning your trip to see him in this momentous West End event.

Book Death of England: Delroy tickets on London Theatre.

King Lear, National Theatre, 2014

Essiedu had a real “a star is born” moment during Sam Mendes’s production, which starred Simon Russell Beale as Lear. Actor Sam Troughton was taken ill mid-show, so his understudy, Essiedu, stepped in and played the role of Edmund for the rest of the show – to great acclaim.

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Romeo and Juliet, Bristol Tobacco Factory, 2015

Polina Kalinina’s fresh, youthful take on Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy saw the action set in a revolutionary 1968 Paris, complete with steampunk design and rave culture. Essiedu and Daisy Whalley were heartbreaking as the hormonal adolescents who fell into both love and violence with terrifying speed.

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Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 2016

Essiedu made history as the first Black actor to play Hamlet for the RSC. Although there was much talk about contemporary touches like graffiti-spraying in Simon Godwin’s West Africa-set revival, the real takeaway was Essiedu’s luminous, intelligent performance, bringing spontaneity to those familiar soliloquies and howling despair.

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Pinter One, Harold Pinter Theatre, 2018

Essiedu first worked with director Jamie Lloyd during the latter’s mighty Harold Pinter season, in which Lloyd staged the master’s one-act plays and short pieces. In this first instalment, Essiedu showed his impressive range, going from a searching husband in an elliptical piece to a tortured prisoner in One for the Road.

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The Convert, Young Vic, 2018

Essiedu starred opposite Black Panther’s Letitia Wright in this compelling period drama written by another Black Panther cast member, Danai Gurira. He played a painfully conflicted man living in 19th-century colonial Zimbabwe, caught between different faiths, nationalities, beliefs, and languages, in a well-received production by Ola Ince.

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A Number, Old Vic, 2022

Lennie James and Essiedu proved to be an electrifying duo in Polly Findlay’s 20th-anniversary revival of Caryl Churchill’s play about human cloning. Essiedu supplied a tour-de-force performance, playing three different versions of James’s character’s son in an incredibly powerful meditation on identity, trauma, family, and autonomy.

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The Effect, National Theatre, 2023

Essiedu reunited with Lloyd for this knockout production of Lucy Prebble’s play. It sees two volunteers in a clinical trial, played by Essiedu and Taylor Russell, begin to fall for one another – but is it love or the drug? Devastatingly charismatic, whether breaking into flirtatious dance or bearing his soul, Essiedu was simply unforgettable.

Death of England Delroy

Death of England: Delroy, @sohoplace, 2024

Essiedu is back in the West End for the landmark Death of England season at @sohoplace. He takes on monologue Delroy, playing a young Black man whose white girlfriend is pregnant, and who is battling social and racial barriers and his own demons. Don’t miss your chance to see this extraordinary actor hold the stage alone.

Book Death of England: Delroy tickets on London Theatre.

Photo credits: Manuel Harlan, Craig Fuller, Marc Brenner

Originally published on

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