The Pope

dramaSix 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?

Anton Lesser (Game Of Thrones, The Crown) plays Pope Benedict in this new play from Anthony McCarten, the 2019 Golden Globe and BAFTA-winning, and Oscar‑nominated writer of Bohemian Rhapsody, The Theory Of Everything and Darkest Hour. It reunites Artistic Director James Dacre with 2018 Tony Award-nominated designer Jonathan Fensom (Our Lady Of Kibeho, King John). Featuring original music composed by BRIT, Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Anne Dudley (Elle, American History X, The Full Monty, Poldark).

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?

The inspiration for an upcoming major motion picture from Netflix, this startling new play receives its world premiere at Royal & Derngate.


There will be a post show talk back on Tue 18 June 

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A Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Anthology Theatre co‑production in association with Tara Finney Productions

Jun 19
Jun 19
Venue: Royal
Duration: TBC
  • Audio Described
  • Captioned
  • Pre-show Touch Tour
  • Signed

Cast & Creative Team