Film star Joseph Fiennes, who played the bard in the blockbuster Shakespeare in Love, returns to the stage next year to play the title role in one of the greatest dramas by Shakespeare's contemporary rival, Christopher Marlowe. The new production of Edward II, directed by Michael Grandage, opens at Sheffield's Sheffield's Crucible Theatre on 13 March, following previews from 8 March, and continues to 31 March 2001.

Considered Marlowe's most accomplished play, Edward II, written in 1592, tells the epic story of the homosexual king who was defeated and eventually murdered by power-hungry barons.

Fiennes plays the title role. Although best known for his film work, Fiennes (younger brother of fellow actor Ralph Fiennes) has worked extensively on stage. In 1998, he starred in the Royal Court premiere of Nick Grosso's acclaimed Real Classy Affair, alongside Nick Moran (of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame). Fiennes' other stage credits include A Month in the Country (Albery Theatre), The Woman in Black (Fortune) and numerous RSC productions.

In addition to the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, Fiennes' other film credits include starring roles in Elizabeth and Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence, as well as the upcoming Stalingrad battle epic Enemy at the Gates. It is rumoured that Fiennes turned down the starring role in Roman Polanski's next film, The Pianist, in order to perform in Sheffield.

Michael Grandage directed Marlowe's The Jew of Malta at the Almeida in 1999. His other recent stage credits include Good, starring Charles Dance at the Donmar Warehouse, and this year's revival of Passion Play, which opened at the Donmar before transferring to the West End's Comedy Theatre.