"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
DOUBT: A PARABLE
First Theatre Co at Brentwood Theatre
Patrick Shanley's award-winning play exposes conflicts within a
church school: a priest is accused of inappropriate friendship with a
vulnerable boy, the first Black student in the school. [This is the
Bronx in 1964.]
in one act, the piece is designed to provoke discussion and debate –
Act Two in the bar afterwards, perhaps.
Dunn's production uses simple settings – a pulpit, an office, the
garden that separates convent from rectory.
has three fine actors to perform the parable. Paul Sparrowham is the
tormented soul, struggling with his accusers and his conscience,
preaching charismatic sermons as commentary on the action. His
confrontation with the cold, intolerant, old-fashioned principal,
Sister Aloysius [played not without warmth and humanity by Glenda
Abbott] was powerfully dramatic. Contrasted with Aloysius was Sister
James [Louise Bridgman], an idealistic young teacher who first,
innocently, sows doubt in the older woman's mind, and "something
is set in motion".
its success, I found the play a little contrived, and wordy at the
start, the two women too tentatively drawn. But Heads First's sincere
treatment enabled us to share this exploration of suspicion,
compassion and innocence, which is only incidentally about scandal
within the Church of Rome.