This article was written by Ele Kains and first published in ‘Lapas.’ The official magazine of the Australia’s Queensland-Lithuanian community.
On Wednesday 8 October at 1 pm, a small group of ten “loyal” Lithuanian excursionists came along with me to see David Suchet perform in the play, “The Last Confession”, at the Theatre Royal in Sydney.
Set within the corridors of power in the Vatican, “The Last Confession” explores the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of Pope John Paul I in 1978. He died only 33 days after being elected and before he could set his liberal reforms into place. Suspicions are aroused when it is revealed that the new Pope, on the evening before his death, had warned three of his most influential but hostile Cardinals that they would be replaced.
The Vatican refuses to conduct an official investigation into the death, but the politically savvy Cardinal Giovanni Benelli (played by David Suchet), who had engineered the election of Pope John Paul I, is determined to find the truth. Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph said: “What a pleasure to encounter such an ambitious new play – a conspiracy thriller and murder mystery that manages the rare feat of being as intelligent as it’s ‘entertaining’…”
It was very interesting, as the story also implicated a Lithuanian Bishop, Paul Marcinkus, played by American actor based in Britain, Stuart Milligan.
A bit of bacground on Marcinkus; Marcinkus was President of the Vatican Bank from 1971 to 1989 and at the same time, he was also director of Banco Ambrosiano Overseas, based in the Bahamas. At the time, Banco Ambrosiano was the biggest private bank in Italy, run by Roberto Calvi, with the Vatican Bank as its main shareholder and loan recipient. Calvi was moving money out of Italy to offshore banks and companies via the Vatican Bank. BA collapsed in 1982 with debts of $3.5 billion and as investigators starting looking into the Vatican Bank’s involvement, they started turning up dead.
Marcinkus was indicted as an accessory to assassinations, arms smuggling and trafficking in stolen gold, counterfeit currencies and radioactive materials, but couldn’t be arrested by international nor Italian authorities as he was under the protection of Vatican City’s sovereign immunity. The cast of twenty actors includes American, Australian, British and Canadian artistes making this a truly international production. An amazing show. A great day was had by all. The Pièce de résistance was that a few of us had the privilege of meeting the famous Mr David Suchet. I sent an email to the theatre requesting a private meeting with the famous actor saying that we are related by “nationality” and we would be honoured to meet him. Unfortunately my request was ignored, they did not respond.
However, I do not give up easily – a Lithuanian trait! So after the show I asked a few of the workers if there might be a chance of meeting Mr Suchet and they kindly suggested that we try “stage door”. Thanks to a bit of a walk and some persistence, we were privileged to meet the famous “Poirot”. He kindly allowed us to take a photo with him. I would describe him as very polite, debonair, and a wonderful gentleman! Labai ačiū, Ponas Suchet!
We also met his colleague, Kevin Colson, who played Cardinal Baggio. We saw him in the cafe in the arcade next door and asked him for a photo. He did an amazing performance also.