Theater Southwest Reviews


by LL

Theatre Southwest’s four-character rendition of “Doubt” by John Patrick Shanley ois more than “a parable.” The theater’s stage is layered three varying scenes –podium, –office, garden and wrapped on three sides by seats. Interaction and illustration is an understatement; the characters ingratiate.

Shortly after taking a seat the viewer is daunted by what they are going to experience. Foreboding music beats through and an altar, adorned with a cross, looms center stage. The intercom comes one, the religious ubiquity emphasized.

Then a sermon begins. Doubt. The core of the sermon is how to battle only “seeing truth once.” The air hangs thick. Then nuns, polar in archetype, innocence and experience, use the office for an emphatic conversation. They garner all the energy.

At first the play is a clash of male and female, dark and light. The scenes alternate from the priest, on the stage with only a spotlight, preaching to the nun’s scene in the office, alight, as they clash in conversation.

The play unfolds, slowly. At first it is subtle. Then initial sermon is illustrated until finally it is flipped on its head as the three characters collide, a doubtful nun, a trusting nun and an opaque priest. Now, what does the sermon mean to have only seen truth once?

The priest also said, a poisoned mind will only see wrongdoing. The experienced nun only sees wrong.

I see it too. I was riveted to her. But after intermission the fourth character enters, a mother, to remind thus that we are not living in dark and light moral pane. Now I doubt if anyone was ever right or wrong. I was left gnawing my thoughts to the nub.

The conclusion of the play is not there as a bow on top. It is more open ended. I never got answers. However, the experience itself, going on the emotional arch with the characters, is the resolve.

The play will make you feel, question and for the softer ones cry – as I did. If religion, doubt, and a harsh depiction of reality are off-putting, then bring a friend. It is not an experience to go through alone but one worth having, and there is no better way than Theatre Southwest. Sister Aloysius and Sister James will make you laugh at the bad, Father Flynn to cringe and the good, and Mrs. Miller –the mother – gets you to cry at the true.