West End ‘Epitaph’ for Fiennes

Gill to helm Osborne-Creighton play

LONDON — Joseph Fiennes will headline a new West End revival of “Epitaph For George Dillon,” the John Osborne-Anthony Creighton collaboration that hasn’t been seen locally since its London preem in 1958.

Rehearsals start Sept. 12, with Peter Gill (“Days of Wine and Roses”) directing a cast of nine that includes veteran TV and stage thesp Pam Ferris. Plan is for a mid-October opening for 12 weeks at a theater to be announced, with a hoped-for extension if business warrants.

The original production starred the late Robert Stephens (Maggie Smith’s ex-husband) and was directed by William Gaskill, both of whom received 1959 Tony noms in its Broadway transfer. So why revive the play now? “I believe it’s John’s masterpiece,” co-producer Roger Chapman told Daily Variety. “As a play for today about hope and disillusionment, this is it.”

Play, set in suburban south London, brings the “Shakespeare In Love” star back to the London stage for the first time since Trevor Nunn’s National Theater farewell production, “Love’s Labours Lost,” early in 2003. Fiennes’ other legit credits include “The Woman In Black” and “A Month In the Country,” both on the West End, and, in 1998 at the Royal Court’s tiny Theater Upstairs, Nick Grosso’s “Real Classy Affair.”

Chapman pegged the cost of “George Dillon” between 300,000 and 400,000 pounds ($560,000 to $750,000). He is partnered on the revival by ACT Productions, Matthew Mitchell, and Kim Poster.

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