By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
The Handmaid’s Tale actor Joseph Fiennes will star as England manager Gareth Southgate in a new play at the National Theatre.
According to the BBC, Dear England is “inspired by Southgate’s journey since his infamous penalty miss for England in 1996”, with an official release saying the play is a “gripping examination of both nation and game”.
Writer James Graham said he is grateful to shine a light on the men’s England football team under Southgate’s “cultural reform” which he has found “epic and deeply moving”.
Graham, who wrote BBC One drama Sherwood, said: “To tell this story of the national game on the stage of the National Theatre is just the greatest thrill, if an intimidating responsibility. The experience of working on This House at the National Theatre 10 years ago changed my life as an emerging writer.
“Now, with Dear England, to be given the opportunity to shine a light on another public institution in the form of the England men’s football team is, I know, an exciting opportunity.
“What Gareth Southgate has attempted in his quiet cultural reform of England football I find epic and deeply moving. And I’m so grateful to be surrounded by some of British theatre’s most exciting creative talent to unite around this new show.”
Director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris said: “I am delighted to be welcoming James Graham back to the National Theatre this summer with his new play. Dear England is a captivating examination into the complex psychology of the much loved ‘beautiful game’.”
The play will be directed by Rupert Goold, whose credits including directing Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III at the Almeida Theatre, before adapting it into a screenplay for BBC Two which was nominated for a Bafta.
Dear England will run at the Olivier theatre from June 10th until August 11th with further casting to be announced.
Southgate made 57 appearances for England as a player, but is probably best remembered for missing a crucial penalty kick against Germany in the Euro 96 semi-final at Wembley.
He went on to manage the national side, leading them to a World Cup semi-final in 2018 and the Euro 2020 final.