Close of Play
Close of Play

Close of Play (1979)

Close of Play

Close of Play (1980)

Date from

24 May 1979

The original opening date was 11 April 1979, but the theatre was impacted by industrial action and picket lines at the entrances (by members of the National Association of Theatrical Television and Kine Employees). Strikes were in support of current and former members of NT staff, 67 of whom had been dismissed, mostly stage hands. On 19 March Michael Redgrave, who was suffering from Parkinson's disease, was obliged to leave his taxi and walk to participate in rehearsals (Hall, p. ยง). According to Billington, the event was key to Pinter's vote being lent to Margaret Thatcher in the May 1979 General Election: 'I look back on that vote with disbelief'. (Billington, 2007, p 306).

Date to

22 October 1979

No of Performances 47
Premiere Yes
Touring Yes
Language English


National Theatre: Lyttelton Theatre


Simon Gray wrote to Peter Hall to protest the premature, in his view, cancellation of the play at the Lyttleton (Harold Pinter Archive; see 'Sources').

Previews: 18, 19, 21, 22, 23/5.

Theatre Royal, Bath (Est. 1805)

05-Oct-1979 to 07-Oct-1979

Opening and final nights of this leg of tour uncertain given the nature of the source (entries for October in Harold Pinter's appointments diary, 1979).

Olympia Theatre (Est. 1923)

09-Oct-1979 to 22-Oct-1979

Linked Productions

No linked Production have been added to this production record yet.

Linked People

Harold Pinter (1930 - 2008)

Creative | Director

Eileen Diss (1931)

Creative | Set Designer

Leonard Tucker

Creative | Lighting Designer

Ronnie Cox

Creative | Assistant Lighting Designer

Listed in programme as 'Ronald'.

Elizabeth Waller

Creative | Costume Designer

Gabby Haynes

Creative | Sound Designer

Diana Boddington (1921 - 2002)

Technical | Stage Manager

Catherine Bailey

Technical | Assistant Stage Manager

Angela Fairclough

Technical | Assistant Stage Manager

Karen Stone

Technical | Deputy Stage Manager

John Haynes

Creative | Production Photographer

Rodger Hulley

Technical | Production Manager

Lizzi Becker

Technical | Staff Director

Simon Gray (1936 - 2008)

Creative | Playwright

Linked Organisations

Royal National Theatre (Producing & Receiving House | Est. 1963)

South Bank, London SE1 9PX, England



Jasper (Age: Not specified, Male)

This was Redgrave's last theatre performance

Performer: Michael Redgrave (1908 - 1985)

Daisy (Age: Not specified, Female)

Peggy Ashcroft was originally cast in the role, but after a week of rehearsing in agony with cartilage trouble, the understudy Leon had to take over as Ahscroft needed an operation. Pinter stated 'She played a chatterbox of the first order obsessed with trivia and grasped the role quite joyously. With all due respect to the understudy who took over, it was a terrible tragedy for he play when she had to surrender and have an operation since she brought to it something extraordinary'. (Billington, 1991, p. 248)

Performer: Annie Leon

Marianne (Age: Not specified, Female)

Performer: Anna Massey (1937 - 2011)

Benedict (Age: Not specified, Male)

Performer: John Standing (1934)

Margaret (Close of Play) (Age: Not specified, Female)

Performer: Lynn Fairleigh (1942)

Jenny (Age: Not specified, Female)

Performer: Zena Walker (1934 - 2003)

Matthew (Age: Not specified, Male)

Performer: Adam Godley (1964)

Matthew (Age: Not specified, Male)

Performer: Matthew Ryan

Henry (Close of Play) (Age: Not specified, Male)

Performer: Michael Gambon (1940 - 2023)

Linked Awards

No award have been added to this production record yet.


No resources have been added to this production record yet.


Harold Pinter Official Website


Information about linked persons and performers taken from site's webpage for the production [accessed 1 May 2018].

Daniel Rosenthal's The National Theatre Story

Daniel Rosenthal, The National Theatre Story (London: Oberon, 2013)

Academic book

Information about number of performances taken from Rosenthal's unpaginated book, and section for 1979.

The British Library Manuscript Collections. Pinter Archive. Production correspondence; 1978-1981. Add MS 88880/6/3

Library archive

Contains letters between Simon Gray and Peter Hall

The British Library Manuscripts Collections, Pinter Archive, Diary, 1979. Add MS 88880/12/12

Library archive

Information about performance times and transfers taken from entries for May and October.

Michael Billington's biography of Harold Pinter

Michael Billington, Harold Pinter, revised edition (London: Faber and Faber, 2007)


Michael Billington's biography of Peggy Ashcroft

Michael Billington, Peggy Ashcroft, 1907-1991 (London: Mandarin, 1991)


Peter Hall's Diaries.

Peter Hall and John Goodwin, Peter Hall's Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle (London: Oberon, 2016)

Published diary