It is characteristic of Simon Gray to place a witty, intellectual hero center stage, and then systematically and ruthlessly reveal the barrenness of his soul and spirit. In CLOSE OF PLAY (the title is a cricket term) the central figure is Jasper Spencer, a celebrated literary figure and family patriarch, who sits mutely on stage while his children and their spouses, one by one, reveal their innermost concerns and problems to him. One son, a BBC television newscaster with a drinking problem, suspects that his wife is unfaithful and may leave him; another son, a doctor facing a malpractice suit, feigns devotion to his often-betrayed wife, who is pregnant with their fifth child; while the widow of a third brother, who hates everyone in sight, tries to develop a meaningful relationship with her troubled son, who is suspected of homosexuality and theft. While the stories they tell are absorbing, lively, and filled with humor, they are also, on a deeper level, uncommonly revealing—giving eloquent testimony of the profound unhappiness that underlies this ostensibly content and even placid household.
Successfully produced in both London and New York, this revealing and frequently funny play, by one of the most celebrated of contemporary British writers, is a subtle but lively depiction of neurotic self-destructiveness among the educated middle class of present-day England. "…Simon Gray once again demonstrates his superb skill in creating well-constructed succinct dialogue which always exudes wit and humor while revealing the underlying emotion present in his characters." —The Hollywood Reporter. "…one of the most absorbing of British contemporary playwrights, and also one who seems to have a special immediacy for American audiences." —NY Post.