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Anton Lesser to play Pope in Northampton

Published: 13 April 2019

Anton Lesser will return to the stage for the first time in a decade to play Pope Benedict in the world première of The Pope at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate.

New Zealander Antony McCarten’s play marks his UK stage debut and is the inspiration for a major film of the same name that McCarten has adapted to première on Netflix later in 2019.

The work analyses why Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world by announcing he would become the first pope in 700 years to resign, making way for Cardinal Bergoglio—a tango-dancing, football-loving reformer with the common touch—to become Pope Francis.

The Pope is 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”.

Royal and Derngate artistic director James Dacre will direct. Design will be by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting design by Charles Balfour. Anne Dudley will compose the music.

The Pope will run from Saturday 8 until Saturday 22 June (press night Wednesday 12 June).

Steve Orme