Reviews

  • A cracking read . . . With due respect to those talented thesps, they will have to go some to convey all the nuances and contradictions, ambiguities and embarrassments, dark secrets and outright skulduggeries that McCarten crams into his 200-odd pages . . . engrossing

    Richard Morrison, The Times
  • Provides a compelling look at life and politics in the Vatican today

    Vanity Fair, This Winter’s Best Nonfiction Reads
  • [On the play version] Why did he do it? Why did Pope Benedict XVI, that most traditional of pontiffs, break with tradition and resign in 2013, ceding the way to his reformist rival, Cardinal Bergoglio? That's the problem at the heart of this compelling new problem play by Anthony McCarten - and, sensibly, the playwright leaves it more or less unsolved. He presents us with two contrasting and eternal characters, both at breaking point: the wavering conservative and the reluctant liberal. The playwright's own sympathies seem to be with Bergoglio, yet, despite the relatable ordinariness Nicholas Woodeson brings to that role, it is Anton Lesser's shy, candyfloss-haired Benedict who, against the odds, emerges as the more fascinating presence: the one who can play Mozart, however imperfectly, the one who attempts little jokes, far less polished than his rival's hail-fellow shtick, yet more amusing for their faults. McCarten, who wrote the screenplay for Darkest Hour, has a gift for creating intimate dramas from public biographical property. Here the theatre becomes a confessional, with the audience asked to grant absolution to two flawed but pious priests.

    The Times, ????
  • [On the film screenplay] Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins deliver a sit-back-and-marvel double-act masterclass that will be spoken of in the same breath as De Niro and Pacino in Heat . . . the triple-whammy impact of McCarten's script, Meirelles's direction and, mostly, the two lead performances creates a completely credible reality, at times indecently moving . . . there are big ideas in here too

    The Times, *****