Popes come and popes go but generally not after only 33 days; which is what happened to Albino Luciani, elected Pope John Paul 1 in August ‘78. Once on the throne he soon disturbed many in the Curia by his unconventional views and actions, so that his shockingly untimely death raised suspicions of foul play. The mystery remains to this day.
A play that features a large cast of mainly older men in remarkably similar long red costumes is certainly unusual and maybe lacking in sex appeal and jokes but The Last Confession has been a hit in London and North America, and will soon be in a theatre near you. If you live in Perth it already is.
A big element in its success is the casting of David Suchet as the powerbroker Benelli. Suchet may not be a household name as an actor but is a household figure as the little Belgian detective in Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
His has been a distinguished career as a character actor (that means he was never a romantic figure and he rarely plays likeable characters) bringing a commanding presence to the stage. Following the death of Pope Paul VI, his character Cardinal Benelli organizes the election of John Paul I and although shocked and suspicious about the new Pope’s sudden death Benelli tries to organize the next conclave so as to become Pope himself. He fails, beaten by the Polish cardinal.
This is material of considerable dramatic potential, on a grand scale we rarely see in Australia.
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