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Epitaph for George Dillon

Epitaph for George Dillon is an early John Osborne play, one of two he wrote in collaboration with Anthony Creighton (the other is Personal Enemy). It was written before Look Back in Anger, the play which made Osborne's career, but opened a year after at Oxford Experimental Theatre in 1957, and was then produced at London’s Royal Court theatre, where Look Back in Anger had debuted.[1] It transferre to New York City shortly afterwards and garnered three Tony Award nominations.[2]

Epitaph for George Dillon
Epitath for George Dillon.jpg
Poster for original Broadway production
Written byJohn Osborne and Anthony Creighton
Date premiered1957 (1957)
Place premieredOxford Experimental Theatre, Oxford University
Original languageEnglish
SettingThe Elliot family home, just outside London. The present.


The play tells the story of Kate Elliot’s unhappy suburban South London family and the domestic havoc wrought when she decides to adopt George Dillon as a surrogate son.

It tackles typical Osborne themes, including religion (and Osborne’s hatred thereof), vegetarianism, the casual deception of everyday life and scorn of the theatre. In common with Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger, George Dillon is an intelligent man unable to find his place in the world.[3]


It opened professionally at the Royal Court Theatre on February 11 1958, in a production by William Gaskill, with the following cast (in order of appearance):[4]

Critical reception

In The Observer, Kenneth Tynan called it "Powerful, honest and transfixing"; while in The Sunday Times, Harold Hobson wrote that the play "absorbs and fascinates because it is that rarest of theatrical phenomena, a realistic modern drama which is not bourgeois in its underlying assumptions. It is like a familiar building caught at an angle which suddenly makes it look like something never seen before."[5]


It made its debut on Broadway on November 4, 1958 starring Wendy Craig but was a failure and closed on November 22, 1958 after just 23 performances.[6][7] Another version by new management and separately-financed opened during the same season on January 12, 1959 again starring Craig but was also a commercial failure playing for 48 performances and closing on February 21, 1959.[8][7] The first version received three Tony Award nominations - Best play; best direction (William Gaskill) and best actor (Robert Stephens).[2]

Original Broadway cast

2005 London revivalEdit

A successful West End revival of the play ran at the Comedy Theatre from 27 September 2005 until 14 January 2006, directed by Peter Gill and starring Joseph Fiennes, Francesca Annis and Anne Reid.[9]

It also featured Geoffrey Hutchings, Zoe Tapper, Dorothy Atkinson, Stephen Greif, Hugh Simon and Alex Dunbar.[10]


In 1969, BBC radio broadcast a production starring John Hurt in the title role; and in 1994, another version starring Michael Maloney.[11][12]

Online ReviewsEdit


  1. ^ Creighton, Anthony; Osborne, John (12 June 2014). "Epitaph for George Dillon". Faber & Faber – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b League, The Broadway. "Epitaph for George Dillon – Broadway Play – Original - IBDB".
  3. ^ Heilpern, John (19 October 2007). "John Osborne: A Patriot for Us". Vintage – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Creighton, Anthony; Osborne, John (12 June 2014). "Epitaph for George Dillon". Faber & Faber – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Epitaph for George Dillon". Public Store View.
  6. ^ "Epitaph for George Dillon". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b "19 B'Way Hits During '58-'59". Variety. 27 May 1959. p. 71. Retrieved 22 September 2019 – via
  8. ^ "Epitaph for George Dillon (second version)". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Epitaph For George Dillon, Comedy Theatre, London".
  10. ^ Billington, Michael (28 September 2005). "Epitaph for George Dillon, Comedy, London" – via
  11. ^ "Epitaph for George Dillon". 14 July 1969. p. 19 – via BBC Genome.
  12. ^ "BBC Radio Drama, Radio 3 , 1994,DIVERSITY website".

External linksEdit