DOUBT – a parable

11 Sep

DOUBT – a parable.

aline waites

DOUBT a parable at the Southwark PLayhouse. *****

DOUBT – a Parable
By John Patrick Shanley
This riveting taut narrative is set in the sixties when homophobic prejudice was rife.  Sister Aloysius – the severe headmistress of a R.C.junior school in the Bronx, is positive that the charismatic priest, Father Flynn has actually fed communion wine to the only black child in the school before molesting him sexually and she wants to get Flynn exposed as a pederast.
The acting in this ‘parable’ is superb and the scene between Mrs Mullen, the boy’s mother and Sister Aloysius is probably one of the most exciting confrontations  I have ever seen. There is a completely spontaneous round of applause on her exit. Jo Martin plays this Mumsie lady with passion and the deepest love for her son. She wants him to have a good life and she has no battle with Flynn, her only desire is to get her boy to High School.  Sister Aloysius, played by Stella Gonet,  believes that what she is doing is completely correct and the will of God, although in the end she is capable of cheating to get her own way. This is yet another brilliant performance and the actress also gets a round of applause after her biggest scene. The young priest is perfectly cast and sympathetically played by Jonathan Chambers. He too is a character who believes in kindness and can admit that it is possible and forgivable to doubt the rightness of everything. The fourth character, played by Clare Latham is a young nun who loves teaching but who is beginning to be disenchanted by the older nun’s over strict attitude.
Designed by P J McEvoy, the set is composed of rostra with a central stage and steps on each side so that every scene is available to the audience.  The platforms have the look of jewels as they are cut out in shapes and have coloured lights underneath..  McEvoy has worked it out perfectly to adapt to the needs of the script.
 The beginning of the play sets up the antagonism between the two main protagonists by having them at opposite ends – just looking at each other while Flynn  gives his sermon .
Che Walker wonderfully directs, with high clarity, this is a play of great passion, diverse ethics – and above all –ambiguity. The play is exact and economical. There is not a word to spare in the entire script which is run without an interval.
This is an exceptional evening in the theatre.

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