After 33 days as Pope, John Paul I is dead. Rumours abound as to the cause of death - hints of murder are whispered.

Roger Crane has written a gripping and entertaining thriller which looks at the lead up to his death and its aftermath. It is a tale full of political intrigue, the struggle for power and the battle between liberalism and conservativism.

Financial corruption is rife with the shadow of the Mafia and the death of God's Banker, Roberto Calvi, hanging over the Vatican.

The demise of the Pope certainly works to the advantage of the Curia, the body of cardinals desperate to uphold the traditional ways and doctrines.

Leading a strong cast is David Suchet as Cardinal Benelli, himself a contender for the papacy but content to remain an eminence grise - a kingmaker rather than the king. Suchet delivers a powerful performance of great subtlety.

As John Paul, Richard O'Callaghan gives an astonishing portrayal of humility and compassion. The meekness is matched with a fierce tenacity to bring about change.

Director and cast provide an evening of splendid theatre with serious debate tempered with plenty of humour.

  • Until May 19. Call 01243 781312