David Suchet has extracted plenty of confessions in his 25 years as TV detective Hercule Poirot but his first stage play in Perth is a different whodunnit.

Suchet leads a large international cast of 20 in Roger Crane's robe-and-dagger drama The Last Confession.

The play acts out the murky circumstances about the controversial death of Pope John Paul I just 33 days after he was appointed in 1978.

Suchet appears as Cardinal Giovanni Benelli, who helps install the Pope and sets out to find the truth after other Vatican officials refuse to investigate. The British actor said audiences should not be deterred by the religious setting because the play was a riveting political thriller whose backdrop happened to be the Catholic Church.

"This has to do with power and politics," he said.

"I wouldn't be in a play if it was just about religion and the Catholic Church. This is a play about one of the monumental crises of the 20th century. It was huge. It could have brought down the whole of the Catholic Church. It was that big."

The Last Confession runs until August 16 at His Majesty's Theatre before touring the east coast.

The West Australian

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