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Dear England Review

The newly introduced play on the West End, Dear England, was written by James Graham. After getting such a good reception at the National Theatre, it got immediately transferred to the Prince Edward Theatre on the West End … and it’s clear to see why!

In the opening scene we see Gareth Southgate’s missed penalty in 1996 which saw England be knocked out of the World Cup. The play then takes the audience on a journey from when Southgate became England manager and how his introduction helped England rewrite their story capitalising on the talent they have once finding what was missing.

The play got a perfect balance of hilarious humour and powerful emotion. Director Rupert Goold managed to cleverly intwine the British football culture onto the stage. They managed to draw attention to real life issues, such as racism, the lionesses not getting the same pitch time and mental health. The latter played a particularly large role in the story as it was made clear the lack of support Southgate received in 1996, and that he didn’t want the same for his players. The story showed the tough realities of the players  through the drama in the dressing room, and how Southgate introduced psychologist Pippa Grange, played by Dervla Kirwan, to help the players understand why they weren’t performing on the pitch. The show also acknowledged how Southgate introduced legacy numbers, and at the end the names of all players that have represented England was shown on the screen which I thought was a special addition. The play was based on the recent events of the 2018, 2021 and 2022 campaigns, so the audience could really relate to what was happening on stage.

As soon as we entered the theatre we were met with the sound of cheering fans subtlety playing in the background making it seem like we were at a football match. 

The cast was absolutely phenomenal with my particular favourites being Joseph Fiennes’ uncanny resemblance to Gareth Southgate, and Will Close who played Harry Kane. The whole company were great at portraying the iconic footballers and it was clear how much time went into researching the mannerisms of each. The slow-motion celebration scenes were particularly impressive! One thing that would’ve made the show even better would be having more actors, for most of the scenes there were only 10 players and there was a lack of females for the Women’s EURO’s scene.

The set was designed by Es Devlin and although simple, containing nine cabinets and moving props (including Bukayo Saka’s iconic inflatable unicorns from the 2018 world cup!), it was brought to life with the moving turn table stage and lighting by Jon Clark. The circular stage covered in tactic board arrows and  a floating hoop brought a stadium feel to the theatre. There were multiple screens that showed the history of English football and actual footage of to the past. The screens also helped identify the players for those who may not be as knowledgeable with the players.

Going into the show a huge fan of both football and theatre I was really excited to see how they would translate football onto the stage, and I was extremely surprised! From the first scene I was hooked and really enjoyed reliving moments such as the 2018 penalty shootout win over Columbia. On the other hand having been a supporter of many of the players for numerous years it was touching to see their personal stories on the stage and it was nice to be given an opportunity to see the humanity of the footballers. The play was topped off with the classic Sweet Caroline being played for the audience to sing along too, it was just like we were in Wembley. I would therefore give this play five stars and will undoubtably be going to see it again when it returns to London!


The play appealed to all ages, with the audience the day I went having a range of ages in attendance. If you’re a football fan this is the show for you, it has just finished its run on the West End but with such popular demand I’m sure it won’t be long till its back and I would definitely recommend a visit! My PA isn’t a huge football fan and she still enjoyed it so anyone should give it a go.

Accessibility at the Prince Edward Theatre

Located a 15 minute walk from Charing Cross, the Prince Edward Theatre is near Shaftesbury Avenue. Upon arrival we waited in the main entrance until the auditorium opened, this was where the shop and bar were located so it was all accessible. Our seats were located in box CB1.3 in the Dress Circle which was accessed through a side entrance of the theatre. The doorframe was a little tight but the box was big enough to fit multiple people. Unfortunately the view was obstructed by the ledge so I had to remove my footplates and still couldn’t see the near side of the stage, thankfully not much of the action was missed.

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great review Ellie. I had heard good reports from the NT production so hope to be able to get tickets when I visit UK later in May or June. Thanks and COYP

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