The Two Popes

The Two Popes Reviews at the Rose Kingston and UK Tour

The Two Popes has opened at the Rose Theatre in Kingston on its UK tour.

The Two Popes gets a major new revival, written by Anthony McCarten – the Oscar winning writer of Bohemian Rhapsody, Darkest Hour and The Theory of Everything.

His 2019 play, centred on the relationship between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, was famously adapted by McCarten into a big-screen Netflix movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce.

The Two Popes stars Anton Lesser (Game of Thrones, The Crown, Endeavour) and Nicholas Woodeson (Baptiste, The Death of Stalin, The Danish Girl), and is directed by James Dacre with original music by Grammy and BRIT Award-winning composer Anne Dudley.

The Two Popes runs at the Rose Kingston until 23 September 2022, before continuing its UK tour.

Book tickets to The Two Popes at the Rose Theatre Kingston

The Two Popes reviews

Daily Mail

"Two popes and one question - how do we move from era to era?"

"At a time of succession in the Royal Family, this fine revival of Anthony McCarten's play about Popes Benedict and Francis is poignantly apposite."

Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
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The Evening Standard

"This tale of two pontiffs is decidedly undivine"

"The script leaves little room for nuance in this old-fashioned piece of work"

"Lesser’s bird-like beadiness suits Benedict, although at 70 he’s a bit too spry for the part. Woodeson, instantly likeable in a way Lesser never strives to be, sinks into Bergoglio’s ebullience as if it’s a cosy, familiar armchair. At times each of them lets mannerism or accent take over from character, possibly because the script leaves little room for nuance."

"Given the momentous events and issues it deals with, the whole thing feels oddly bloodless, but at least the timing is apposite."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Stage


"Consummate performances from stars Nicholas Woodeson and Anton Lesser lift Anthony McCarten’s cerebral character study"

"... The Two Popes is a stylish, if sometimes sluggishly paced, piece."

"The script, from BAFTA-winning screenwriter Anthony McCarten, is unevenly paced, starting out with a pair of ponderous opening scenes that only gradually establish the two protagonists’ dissimilar personalities and philosophical positions. But once they finally meet, the play takes off. As his characters argue theological points and weigh their own worthiness as spiritual leaders, McCarten grapples with compelling questions of duty, faith, and forgiveness."

"James Dacre directs with finesse, giving each slow scene space to unfold in its own time, but squeezing out moments of humour to lighten the solemn tone"

Dave Fargnoli, The Stage
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The Arts Desk

"Sparkling with wit and pathos"

"Funny, poignant and stimulating, a delightfully welcome piece of intellectual escapism"

"McCarten’s script dazzles with wit and pathos, the men vividly brought to life, the spiritual arguments anchored firmly to the real world. Their jokes, though often received by the other in sepulchral silence, are terribly funny and the thinking by which both men work through the traumas of their pasts, proves poignant and moving."

Gary Naylor, The Arts Desk
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📷 Main photo: The Two Popes. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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