- By Paul Glynn
- entertainment reporter
Theater critics have said that Dear England, a new play about England’s men’s soccer team coach, Gareth Southgate, has netted at home.
The play, starring Joseph Fiennes as the England boss, opened on Tuesday night at the National Theater in London.
It’s inspired by Southgate’s journey since he missed the infamous penalty at Euro 96, and how he helped change the notion of masculinity for today’s team.
The Telegraph reported that the actor Shakespeare in love was “infatuated” with the role of Southgate.
“What starts out as a helpful summary of how Southgate has restructured England’s sense of self (as well as personnel) has built it into not only a compelling film, but one that has worth looking at the confusion in our broader national story,” he wrote.
“Fiennes played the Bard in Shakespeare in Love, and achieved a mesmerizing intellectual intensity, shoving his hands deep in his pockets or gesticulating, that made Southgate almost like Shakespeare’s heir, weaving dreams dream for all of us,” he added.
“He shoots; he scores. James Graham’s fast-moving portrait of Gareth Southgate’s reign as England manager is a delightful example of populist theater,” he wrote. . “There’s anguish, joy, and a surprisingly generous helping of humour.”
Dear England, headlined from Southgate’s open letter to fans, which focuses not only on penalties but also on racism targeted at black players for missing them , the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.
“There was too much politically correct preaching in the last quarter,” Davis notes. “And I might have done it if it weren’t for the political caricatures of [former prime ministers, Theresa] May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. Graham makes his views on the power of solidarity and compassion eloquent enough through what he shows us about Southgate himself.”
“It’s a thriller that you hope can convince theater fans of the importance of football, and football fans will watch to understand how exciting theater can be. ,” she wrote. “What production has in abundance is both energy and tenderness.”
She added: “Graham is well aware of the brutality of selections and the burdens of professional sports, and he’s not exempt from criticism for Southgate. Sometimes the writing gets bogged down in a number of twists and turns. tried – the woman next to me was baffled by the details of the OneLove armband ban in Qatar – and in its own metaphors.
“But as a TV series, it’s absolutely gripping, full of twists and turns, lively characters, consistent conflict, and great dialogue.”
However, she only gave three stars and said she had a reservation or two. “Lovely, the production, directed by Rupert Goold, takes time to really stand out, focusing on story rather than drama in the first half – and it feels like a game of two. half,” she added.
“There’s power to witnessing the football story told on the biggest stage of the National Theatre, with thrilling moments in the second half, and it’s optically beautiful from start to finish. So , it does score in the end, even if it doesn’t quite bend it like Beckham.”
Dear England features portraits of Southgate’s star players, as well as sports psychologist Pippa Grange.
“There’s not much space to describe the character deeply but Will Close and Josh Barrow are very funny in their roles [Harry] Kane and [Jordan] Pickford, Darragh Hand and Kel Matsena quietly moved like [Marcus] Rashford and [Raheem] Sterling,” he added.
“There was a fight for goal at the end of the game to match the Lionesses Euro 2022 win and the Qatar controversies. That doesn’t matter. It’s a thriller, popular and political as it is. Graham always wanted his plays to be, and – appropriately – a perfect team effort.”
Speaking to the BBC in February, Graham promised the play would highlight the “gentle revolution” in the team’s culture under Southgate and he hoped to examine the “identity of a team and country”. .
“I think what has happened to the England men’s football team over the past six years has been extraordinary,” the award-winning writer told BBC News.
“It’s humming in the background, but now we’re just starting to really understand Gareth’s gentle revolution.”
Actor Fiennes later added that Southgate has “a kind of moral integrity and compass.”
“He was raised as a young player in a very toxic all-male environment and you can imagine that he wanted to untie his own shackles, give the players a voice. their.”
Dear Britain performs at the National Theater in London until 11 August.