Pioneer Theatre Company currently offers Doubt by John Patrick Shanley. I had no knowledge about this play but with a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for best play under its belt, I thought it worth a look. It is.
Let’s start with the bad news. The acting left me wanting. The play has only four cast members. One of those actors (Jeff Talbott as Father Brendan Flynn) didn’t seem up to the level of the writing. And Shannon Koob as Sister James took a few scenes to warm up. But once she did, she proved effective.
The good news? This is a story that whips the characters into a foggy world of questions and compromises. And the audience is never given the answers. The story involves a Catholic school in the 1960s where the priest is either a caring man who helps the most vulnerable kids in the school or pedophile preying on young boys. Juxtaposed against this dilemma, the other characters are either protectors of the innocent or painfully judgmental and cruel.
Doubt got to me to me a little. The end is very powerful—enough to make one fight back emotions. The missing answers are frustrating but I’m still thinking about the way I treat others. Do I jump to conclusions too easily? Maybe I don’t stand up against injustices as often or as loudly as I should. Sometimes I’m so sure I’m right, but am I? In the words of Sister Aloysius Beauvier, “I have doubts.”