BWW Review: DOUBT: A Parable at City Theatre Austin
Doubt: A Parable
It has been said many times that the difference between an adequate play and a truly great play is that great plays force one to think. They stay with you, you are compelled to discuss them with your play-going companions, you reflect upon them. DOUBT: A Parable certainly made this reviewer think - a day later and struggling to adequately review it, it continues to haunt me.
From the opening monologue when Father Brendan Flynn tells us that "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty" through to its astonishing final moment, that line stayed with me.
Doubt, certainty; Black, white; Up, down; Right, wrong... Are we ever truly certain? Is it possible for a human being to honestly live a fully-realized life without doubt?
We are at St. Nicholas catholic church and school, the Bronx, New York, 1964. The implications of the time and place alone are daunting: The power of the church, civil rights, women's rights, a working-class neighborhood.
Power. Control. Roles. Boundaries. Certainty. Doubt.
Joel Gross is impressive as Father Flynn, a hard-working priest trying to provide his flock with the succor they deserve. His counterpart, Sister Aloysius Beauvier portrayed by the ever-fascinating Babs George is equally resolved to fulfill her vows no matter the odds. These characters carry strong convictions and somehow persuade us to cheer for them both. Supporting characters Sister James and Mrs. Muller, (Brooke Culbertson and April Patterson, respectively), give marvelous performances, both equally determined to do what is best. All of these characters are, wittingly or not, engaged in external and internal battles and the stakes are high.
Pulitzer prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley's powerful text provides these artists with a canvass of endless possibilities and this cast relishes the challenge. They make the boldest of choices and while the play is not without humor, most of it is born of interactions between the characters, with an ocean of information conveyed by what is left unsaid.
An aside about Babs George - an Austin favorite, George is an actor's actor. Great in every role she tackles, George makes us believe Sister Aloysius was written especially for her. Her technique is seamless and her generosity boundless, consistently giving her fellow actors a wealth of cues to play off of. If you've never seen her perform, this is the perfect opportunity.
The costumes, set, lights and sound in this production are top-notch and support the fine direction and acting.
I highly recommend City Theatre's DOUBT: A Parable. Tickets are only $10 - $25, November 8 - 25th, Thursday - Saturday 8:00 p.m., Sunday 3:00 p.m. temporarily housed at Trinity Street Theatre, 901 Trinity Street, Austin, TX 78701.
Get tickets online at: http://www.citytheatreaustin.org/tickets.html , 512-524-2870