Royal & Derngate Northampton has announced that Artistic Director James Dacre will direct the world premiere of The Pope this June as part of its Made in Northampton 2019 season. 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) as Pope Benedict and will feature original music composed by BRIT, Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Anne Dudley (Elle, American History X, The Full Monty, Poldark).
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 is co-produced by Anthology Theatre (The Entertainer, The Wipers Times and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) in association with Tara Finney Productions.
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. 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?