Actor Giles Terera has pulled out of the National Theatre production of Death of England: Delroy after undergoing emergency surgery.
The play, which is due to open on October 21, will kick off a season of in-the-round performances in a remodelled and socially distanced Olivier theatre.
Michael Balogun, Terera’s understudy, will instead play Delroy in the one-person play about a black working-class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.
Terera is recovering well following surgery and the issue was not Covid-19 related, however he will need to rest for six weeks, according to the theatre.
Balogun, who has appeared in NT productions of Macbeth and Barber Shop Chronicles, has been understudying the role of Delroy throughout rehearsals.
A statement from the National Theatre said: “We are very sorry to announce that Giles Terera will no longer be appearing in the production of Death of England: Delroy following emergency surgery.
“Giles is recovering well, and the issue was not Covid-19 related, however having been informed that he will require a recuperation period of six weeks, very unfortunately, this means he will be unable to perform as previously announced in this run of the production. We all send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
“We are pleased to announce that Michael Balogun will now play the role of Delroy in Clint Dyer and Roy Williams’ new play which will open on 21 October in the Olivier theatre.
“Michael has been understudying the role of Delroy and has been working with the team throughout rehearsals. Michael’s previous work for the National Theatre includes, Macbeth, and the UK tours of Barber Shop Chronicles and People, Places & Things.”
The Olivier, the largest of the three permanent theatres at the National, usually accommodates 1,150 people in its fan-shaped auditorium, but will now seat almost 500 with social distancing.
Writers Dyer and Williams wrote the play, directed by Dyer, over five months.
It follows Death Of England, their previous production, which starred Rafe Spall and closed at the National weeks before lockdown.
The new story focuses on the character of Delroy, the best friend of the protagonist in the first play.
After many theatres across the UK cancelled or postponed their pantomimes, a Christmas production of Dick Whittington will play at the Olivier.
Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s version of the story, directed by Ned Bennett, was first staged at Lyric Hammersmith in 2018 and has been updated for 2020.
It will open in December.