Reviews

  • I learned things from the script I didn't know. I just thought, "Can that be right? Were we that perilously close?" And so it just grabbed me.

    Gary Oldman on Darkest Hour
  • Provides a compelling look at life and politics in the Vatican today

    Julia Vitale, Vanity Fair, This Winter’s Best Nonfiction Reads
  • Anthony McCarten has an astonishing knack of transforming a familiar story into a new tale, and one that is revealing and sometimes challenging. Now he has done so once again with The Pope, a beguiling tale of ecclesiastical plotting and intrigue that resembles a sort of bloodless Borgias. It may be a book about how two men reached the holiest pinnacle of the Roman Catholic Church, but when the clouds of incense clear we are left with an awful lot of sinning. The papacy is supposed to be infallible, but thanks to McCarten's deft lifting of the Vatican's scarlet curtains what we see is the breeding ground for one of the greatest scandals of our times in which conspiracy and vanity are on display to a terrifying extent

    Sonia Purnell
  • [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, ????