Maltz Theatre Raises ‘Doubt: A Parable’
Audiences should not doubt that they be will be affected by the doubt harbored by the cynical Sister Aloysius Beauvier when she learns that gregarious and well-liked Fr. Brendan Flynn has held a one-on-one “counseling session” with the school’s first black student, Donald Muller.
“The audience has to pay attention so they don’t miss connections and threads of the story which may still leave them wondering when the play ends,” said J. Barry Lewis, award winning director at West Palm Beach Dramaworks who is directing Doubt: A Parable at the Maltz. “Were the nun’s suspicions justified? Did the priest do anything or not?”
The action takes place in 1964 at St. Nicholas High School, a fictional Catholic school in the Bronx. Sister Aloysius, school principal, runs a tight ship and has little patience for those who fall under her suspicion – of any foible or failing.
“Society was looking at absolutes and discovering that many of them weren’t so absolute after all,” Lewis said. “It’s one of the things I like about the play. It’s not just entertainment although it is well constructed with a spare narrative.”
A naïve and inexperienced young nun, Sister James plays counterpoint to Sister Aloysius’s bitter cynicism and seems willing to give Father Brendan the ‘benefit of the doubt,’ slightly dulling the sharpness of the older nun’s position.
Although the action takes place almost 40 years ago, the nun’s suspicion will resonate with the recent headlines about priests sexually abusing children in their care. No doubt audience members will experience doubt as well, but not just the nun’s doubt of the priest. Rather the nun’s own rigid doubt may cause audiences to question the validity of her suspicions.
Aloysius meets with Donald Muller’s mother to see what she may learn. Mrs. Muller’s resignation to the possibility of the priest molesting her son as a relief from paternal beatings for ‘being that way’ obviously shocks and saddens her.
Push comes to shove between the two antagonists and Aloysius confronts Flynn in front of young James. Threats are made from both sides until Aloysius plays what appears to be a winning card telling Flynn she called his previous assignment and learned of many earlier accusations.
Soon after that, Flynn is promoted to another parish and school as a pastor. Later Aloysius tells James that she never made the call.
A star-studded cast of local award winners and many-time nominees is under Lewis’ direction. “I am so pleased to be returning for the fifth time to the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and to be working with such an extraordinary company on such a timely and gripping story of change,” Lewis said.
Maureen Anderman is Sister Aloysius faced off against Jim Ballard as Fr. Brendan Flynn. Julie Kleiner is Sister James and Karen Stephens plays Mrs. Muller.
Doubt: A Parable, was written by John Patrick Shanley in 2004. It opened off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre on November 23, 2004 and moved to the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway in March 2005 where it played 525 performances and 24 previews. It won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for best play.
A film adaptation was released in 2008 starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. All four received Academy Award nominations for their roles at the 81st Academy Awards.
If You Go
What: Doubt: A Parable
Where: Maltz Theatre in Jupiter
When: Feb. 5 – Feb. 17
How Much: $46 and up
More Info: JupiterTheatre.org
Coincidentally Andrews Arts Living Studio in Fort Lauderdale is also producing Doubt: A Parable, which runs from Feb. 8 – Feb. 23. Visit www.andrewslivingarts.com for tickets and more information.