TheatreWorks Community Players’ “Doubt: A Parable” will run this weekend, after opening Oct. 13, in the Black Box Theatre at 44 Franklin St., Martinsville.
“Doubt, A Parable,” written in 2004 by John Patrick Shanley, is set in 1964 in a Catholic school in the Bronx. During that time of political and social change, a progressive young priest’s conduct raises the suspicions of the old-fashioned school administrator Sister Aloysius, whose tough exterior covers a core of concern and care. Naïve young teacher-nun Sister James also is troubled by doubts she has about the priest, doubts which are mostly solidified after conversations with Sister Aloysius.
Valerie Bowling, a TheatreWorks regular, plays the part of Sister Aloysius. Father Flynn is played by CJ Bowman in his first time on the stage in about a decade; he last was in TheatreWorks’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Elisabet Minter, another TheatreWorks veteran, portrays Sister James, who struggles with how to interpret her observations on the relationship between Father Flynn and student Donald Muller.
But first, the two nuns, products of different generations, also struggle with each other. Sister Aloysius is old school: She bemoans the use of those new-fangled ballpoint pens, which cause students to rush sloppily in their writing when they should be writing slowly and deliberately with fountain pens instead. With that staid attitude, she bristles at Sister James’ crazy ideas that students should enjoy learning and be motivated by a passion for it.
Yet the two nuns who normally butt heads join together in their efforts to come to the bottom of the situation between the priest and the boy, and they are united in lack of support for their cause – the church and schools were ruled by men who would give little to no credence to women and, in fact, might fire or otherwise cause trouble for the women would come to them for help in the matter.
In her efforts to protect the student, Sister Aloysius speaks with the boy’s mother, Mrs. Muller, who enters her office with grace and dignity but then shows a fierce and strong yet unexpected defense of her son. Odesia Millner portrays the elegant and firm Mrs. Muller.
Though the whole play centers around the 12-year-old Donald, that character is not played on stage; he is only spoken of.
Despite the seriousness of the topic, this drama does have several moments of comedy.
Joanie McPeak is the director.
“Doubt: A Parable” will be presented tonight at 7 p.m. (Friday) and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $20 in advance online (www.twcp.net) and $25 at the door.