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The Last Confession - Theatre Royal Haymarket

David Suchet in The Last Confession

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING its run at this year’s Chichester Festival and a brief regional tour, the new thriller by Roger Crane, The Last Confession, will transfer to the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited 12-week season – from July 4, 2007 (previews from June 28).

It’s 1978 and a little-known Cardinal from Venice is elected to succeed Pope Paul VI. A compromise candidate, he takes the name Pope John Paul I, and quickly shows himself to be the liberal the reactionaries within the Catholic Church most feared.

Just thirty-three days later, he is dead. No official investigation is conducted, no autopsy performed, and the Vatican’s press release about the cause of death is later found to be largely false. Furthermore, just the evening before his death, John Paul had warned three of his most influential but hostile Cardinals that they would be replaced.

His death marks the climax of fifteen troubled years of controversy and machination within the Church; schisms threaten its unity and the shadow of the Mafia hovers over its financial affairs. Only Cardinal Benelli has the power to challenge the dead Pope’s enemies.

Described as an incisive new thriller, The Last Confession tracks the dramatic tensions, crises of faith and political manoeuvrings inside the Vatican surrounding the death of the man known as ‘the Smiling Pope’.

David Suchet, who is currently starring as Cardinal Benelli at Chichester, is expected to reprise his role in the West End. The man known to millions of television viewers as Poirot has previously appeared on stage in Amadeus, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Oleanna, Man and Boy and, most recently, Once in a Lifetime at the National Theatre.

David Jones directs a cast that also includes Joseph Mydell and Michael Cronin as well as Paul Foster, Maroussia Frank, John Franklyn-Robbins, Michael Jayston, Charles Kay, Bernard Lloyd, Joseph Long, Roger May, Christopher Mellows, Stuart Milligan, Richard O’Callaghan, Bruce Purchase and Clifford Rose.

The Last Confession completes its run at Chichester on May 19, 2007 before visiting Plymouth, Bath, Malvern and Milton Keynes.

The Lady from Dubuque, starring Maggie Smith, is currently playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
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