Live theatre occasionally transcends being an entertainment or a display of talent to instead become a “cathartic” experience with fresh insights that can lead us to personal restoration and renewal. Courtenay Little Theatre’s production this spring of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play “Doubt, A Parable” promises to be just such an experience.
The play, which opens at the Sid Williams Theatre on April 3rd and runs until April 11th, is set in the Bronx, New York in 1964, at a time when our society was experiencing the civil rights movement, church reform, and second wave feminism. “Doubt, A Parable” is a play that examines how people deal with feelings of uncertainty and skepticism. In this brilliant and powerful drama, Sister Aloysius, a Catholic school principal, takes matters into her own hands when she suspects Father Flynn of an improper interactions with one of the male students.
Once the seeds of doubt are planted there is no end to the volley of questions, twists and uncertainty. The steadfast Sister Aloysius, holding firmly onto rules and protocol, is challenged by Father Flynn’s charismatic and less conventional, liberal religious views. Caught in the middle of the debate is the young, eager-to-please Sister James who is conflicted by the accusations and turn of events.
The play is beautifully written. The cat and mouse exchanges between the characters are electric and spellbinding, drawing us ever deeper into questioning both the veracity of Father Flynn’s story and the legitimacy of Sister Aloysius’ growing suspicion. Ultimately, it is up to the audience, following the story’s shifting perspectives, to attempt to determine guilt or innocence.
Each of the play’s characters is caught, as the story and evidence unfolds, between preserving the way things have always been and embracing change. In the telling of this story, the drama offers us a message about the value of doubt itself as a potential catalyst for change. This gripping story of suspicion cast on a priest’s behavior is less about scandal than about the fascinatingly nuanced questions of moral certainty.
Well known local playwright, actor and director Kymme Patrick commented that she is, “Excited to be able to bring “Doubt, A Parable” to the stage with such a well written piece that creates so much emotional dialogue which challenges both the actors and the audience. “Doubt”, the play, is definitely a provocative investigation of truth and consequences.”
Tickets are available from the Sid Williams Ticket office 24/7 at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com or in person or by phone at 442 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay (250) 338-2430 ext. 1 (Tuesdays to Fridays 12 noon – 5 pm). Evening performances are April 3rd, 4th, 9th, 10th, 11th at 7:30 pm ($28 per seat) with a matinée Sun. April 5th at 2 pm ($26 per seat). Group rates are $24 each for 6 or more. The play is done as a one act of approximately 90 minutes and is not suitable for children.
Photo: Catholic school principal, Sister Aloysius (Ruthie Tilston) shares her suspicions about charismatic priest Father Flynn (Robinson Wilson) with Sister James (Andria Young) in “Doubt, a Parable” on at the Sid April 3rd to 11th. Photo credit: Terry Penney