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Marc Brenner Dear EnglandMarc Brenner

Several theatre critics awarded the play five stars when it opened in 2023

Dear England, an Olivier-award winning play about Gareth Southgate and the England men’s football team is to be updated with a new ending when it returns to the stage.

Ahead of England’s participation in the Euros this summer, the play’s writer James Graham said there is potential for the final act to be changed.

He told the Guardian: “I’ll be changing the play depending on what happens, and I don’t quite know what that will look like.”

It will open at London’s National Theatre next spring, followed by a four-week run in Salford at the Lowry.

The original version of the show ended with Harry Kane missing the penalty against France in the World Cup.

“We programmed the original play before the Qatar World Cup, and we knew the tournament would be the third act of the play,” Graham explained. “In the end it was Kane missing the penalty and repeating the fate of his mentor.”

Dear England, which takes its title from Southgate’s open letter to fans, focuses primarily on the pressure of penalties but also touches on the racism aimed at black players for missing them, set against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

“Sometimes reacting to real events feels like a gimmick or like you’re desperately chasing a story to stay relevant, but for me that’s the joy of theatre, it’s live,” Graham said.

‘Bring it home at last’

Graham seemed optimistic about England’s chances at the upcoming Euros.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but in terms of the talent we have this feels like a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring it home at last.”

“I’m confident no matter what happens in the Euros, it will still illuminate the tail end of the Southgate project,” he added.

Graham admitted that he “found it quite intimidating to put England on stage in the first place” because “the team belongs to all of us”.

But he said that the play was about “embracing that and having all of those different feelings and prejudice, hopes and dreams in the room at the same time”.

Graham is also working on turning the play into a four-part BBC drama with Joseph Fiennes reprising his role as Gareth Southgate.

The play premiered at the National Theatre in 2023, before transferring to the West End.

The play was nominated for for nine Olivier Awards in April, winning best new play and best supporting actor for Will Close, who plays England football captain Harry Kane.

In his acceptance speech, Close thanked footballer Kane and co-star Joseph Fiennes – who played England coach Gareth Southgate – for being a “hero”.

“I literally cannot kick a ball, I do not know why I am here,” he also joked in his speech.

During the Euros, a general election will take place, something Graham described as “truly mad”.

“We’ve had five prime ministers and however many housing or culture secretaries, but the one constant has been Southgate. The idea that at the end of this journey, we might finally win a trophy, there’s got to be some meaning in that. The universe is having a laugh,” he said.



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