March 15, 2005

Theater Review: 'Doubt'


By Ed Kaufman

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Written by Bronx-born John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt" (a West Coast premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse) is compelling, absorbing and as current as yesterday's headlines as it attempts to deal with the nature of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

The story takes place at St. Nicholas Church School in the Bronx, 1964. Credit Gary L. Wissmann for the two rotating sets: the office of the principal and a garden courtyard in the parish. Alex Jaeger's costumes are fitting while Claudia Weill's direction is expert and savvy.

As first we see Father Flynn, the engaging, warm-hearted and idealistic young priest (a commanding performance by Jonathan Cake), at the pulpit preaching about doubt as a necessity if we (or the Church) is to grow. Doubt isn't weakness; doubt brings about change which, Flynn argues, is vital and beneficial.

When the scene changes, we are in the office of Sister Aloysius (the wonderful Linda Hunt), the elderly, cryptic, suspicious, calculating and tough-as-nails principal of St. Nicholas. She runs the school with a firm hand and is suspicious of Flynn's notion about "going out in the community and making believe that you are just one of the other folks."

Posted by kshaw at March 15, 2005 08:24 PM