There is no room for compassion in Sister Aloysius’s mind. She has certainty, even if she doesn’t have proof. As the
head of a Catholic boy’s school in the Bronx in the early 1960’s, she has decided the newest member of the faculty, Father Flynn, is guilty of impropriety and she wants him gone. In her opinion, he has acted improperly with a student, Donald Muller, who has recently enrolled.
The future of this boy is in question. The fate of this priest is under scrutiny. The certainty of an accusing nun is startlingly evident. All of these are judge and jury in Westport Country Playhouse’s current offering, John Patrick Shanley’s involving drama “Doubt” playing until Saturday, November 20. What is not in doubt is the sincerity and dedication of this fine cast of actors.
“Doubt” focuses on Father Flynn, a determined Eric Bryant, and whether or not he is guilty of an inappropriate relationship with Donald Muller, a 12 year old, the first African-American boy who has ever been admitted to St. Nicholas School. The time is 1964. Betsy Aidem’s Sister Aloysius is stern, pious and unbending as the principal whom all the students fear. She cautions the naive and eager-to-please Sister James, a sweet and innocent Kerstin Anderson, that she needs more starch in her spine. She urges Sister James to spy on Father Flynn and confirm her convictions. As she states unequivocally, “I will bring him down.” Her vigilance is her guardian. After all, Father Flynn writes with a ball point pen, has long finger nails, takes three sugars in his tea and likes Frosty the Snowman. These are all evidence of his guilt. She even seeks the counsel of Donald’s mother, a concerned and caring Sharina Martin, to stand with her in her judgmental accusations.
David Kennedy directs this fine drama, a parable of principles.
As for whether or not Father Flynn is guilty or innocent, the playwright leaves the question open for personal interpretation. If you see “Doubt,” you’ll have to decide on your own.
For tickets ($40-60), call the Westport Country Playhouse, Route One Westport at 203-227-4177or online at https://tickets.westportplayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.On demand are available until Sunday, November 21 for a household at $100 and a pair at $50. Remember to bring your proof of vaccination and your mask.
In the final tally, what has never been in doubt, clearly, is the fact that Westport Country Playhouse’s goal is to provide excellent theater for theater’s sake and welcome audiences back after a long absence.