‘Six years ago Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world by quietly announcing he would resign, the first pope in 700 years to do so. What drove this arch-conservative to break with sacred tradition and cede the way for Cardinal Bergoglio – a tango-dancing, football-loving reformer with the common touch – to become Pope Francis, one of most powerful men on earth?
Together, Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio grapple with their complex pasts and uncertain futures. From coming of age under dictatorships in Germany and Argentina, to the scandal of sexual abuse by the clergy – they offer two opposing visions for the Church today’.
Royal & Derngate Northampton has announced its full cast and creative team for the venue’s world premiere of ‘The Pope‘. This new play from Anthony McCarten, the 2019 Golden Globe and BAFTA-winning, and 2019 Oscar‑nominated writer of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘The Theory Of Everything’ and ‘Darkest Hour’, will star Anton Lesser (Game Of Thrones, The Crown, Wolf Hall, Endeavour) as Pope Benedict, in what will mark his return to the stage for the first time in a decade, and Nicholas Woodeson (Baptiste, The Danish Girl, Death of Stalin, Taboo) as Pope Francis, following the actor’s recent UK Theatre Award Nomination for Best Actor in Royal & Derngate’s ‘Death of a Salesman‘.
Faith Alabi (Belleville, Donmar Warehouse; Hamlet, Talawa) and Lynsey Beauchamp (Britannia, Einstein) play the roles of Sister Sophia and Sister Brigitta respectively.
This original play is the inspiration for a major motion picture of the same name that has been adapted by Anthony McCarten to premiere on Netflix later this year. Now based in London, ‘The Pope’ marks his UK stage debut, although in his home country of New Zealand, his acclaimed plays include ‘Ladies Night‘, which remains New Zealand’s most commercial popular play.
The production will be designed by 2018 Tony nominee Jonathan Fensom (Our Lady of Kibeho, Farinelli and the King) with lighting design by Charles Balfour (Mojo, West End; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, National Theatre) and video design by Duncan McLean (The Jungle, West End; All My Sons, Old Vic), and will feature original music composed by BRIT, Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Anne Dudley (Elle, American History X, The Full Monty, Poldark).
Co-produced by Anthology Theatre (The Entertainer, The Wipers Times and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) in association with Tara Finney Productions, ‘The Pope’ will run at Royal & Derngate Northampton from Saturday 8th to Saturday 22nd June, with an official opening night on Wednesday 12th June.
‘Shining a light into one of the world’s most secretive institutions, The Pope is at once a candid portrayal of two men testing the limits of their faith and an exploration of the role of religion in an age of social and political upheaval. At its heart lies a timeless question: in moments of crisis, should we follow the rules or our conscience?’