Tuesday, October 10, 2006

STAGE: Doubt

Saturday afternoon, I had the pleasure of seeing Doubt, the Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning drama by John Patrick Shanley. Friends had raved about it when it was here in Pasadena over a year ago, and of course it was very well received in New York. I can only pile on the accolades, and say I'm grateful that the whole original cast and production came back to Los Angeles for a victory lap. Shanley's play is galvanic, theatre at its best. It's an hour and a half with no intermission, which is just as it should be, since the intensity of the play builds up and doesn't let you go. Cherry Jones deserves her Tony for her portrayal of that rock of certainty, Sister Aloysius, rigid in her traditional ways, a "block of ice" (as Father Flynn describes her), but prepared to march to hell for what she believes is doing the right thing. Chris McGarry is flawless as Father Flynn, shifting seamlessly between apparent guilt and innocent victimhood with a finesse that left us wondering at the end. He's the pivotal character that engenders suspicion without certainty, the aim of Shanley's masterful script. Adriane Lenox (who also won a Tony) is powerful in her role as the mother of the student, initially demure but belying an inner strength that shows breathtakingly by the end of her scene. Lisa Joyce rounds out the excellent cast with her idealistic novice, wanting to have faith in everyone and learning that she can't. If you have any chance to see this play, don't hesitate. Go.

As a postscript, I couldn't help but think about Sister Aloysius as I was reading about Jeff Trandahl, the Clerk of the House of Representatives who was responsible for the congressional page program, apparently tried repeatedly to stop Foley's misbehavior, and eventually resigned. A "strict disciplinarian" too.

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