The National Theatre has announced a new play called ‘Dear England’, written by James Graham, the acclaimed playwright behind the West End hit ‘Best of Enemies’ and the BBC drama ‘Sherwood’. The play will be directed by Rupert Goold and star Joseph Fiennes as Gareth Southgate, the England football team manager. It will run in the National Theatre’s Olivier theatre from 10 June until 11 August, with tickets available from 9 March.
‘Dear England’ will explore the impact of Gareth Southgate on the men’s national football team and his attempt to change the game. With England having the worst track record for penalties in the world, Southgate knows he needs to face up to the years of hurt and take the team and country back to the promised land. The play’s synopsis suggests that it will delve into Southgate’s cultural reform of English football and the challenges he faced along the way.
James Graham has a reputation for creating fictionalised retellings of real British history, and ‘Dear England’ is no exception. The playwright previously wrote ‘This House’ at the National in 2012, which explored politics in the mid to late Seventies. He also wrote ‘Quiz’, a play that was first staged in 2017 and followed the 2001 scandal around “coughing major” Charles Ingram, who won £1m on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’. ‘Quiz’ was later adapted into an ITV drama in 2020.
Graham has expressed his excitement and gratitude for being able to tell the story of the national game on the stage of the National Theatre. He described Southgate’s attempt at cultural reform as epic and deeply moving and expressed his appreciation for the British theatre’s most exciting creative talent that he will be working with.
Joseph Fiennes, known for his roles in ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, will play Gareth Southgate in ‘Dear England’. The play promises to be a thought-provoking and insightful exploration of Southgate’s leadership of the England football team and his efforts to change the game.