3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Doubt, A Parable - Acting Edition (Paperback)
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt (Theatre Communications Group, 2005)
Made into a film a few years ago that many raved about. I haven't seen it yet, because I was waiting until I read the play. Well, now I've read the play, and I don't know why I'm surprised about this, but what I was expecting given the trailers for the film and what I got are two entirely different things. It should go without saying, naturally, but that was quite a pleasant surprise. I've had some bad run-ins with Pulitzer-winning stuff recently; this was not at all one of those times.
Doubt focuses on a single incident in a Bronx Catholic school in the mid-sixties. Sister Aloysius, a dried-up, bitter old prune, suspects that Father Flynn, a new priest at the school, has sexually abused Donald Muller, the school's first black student. In order to get some sort of evidence that this may be true, she enlists the help of Sister James, Donald's teacher, an idealist whom Aloysius hopes to use to her own twisted ends.
There's one thing I'm not entirely sure of here, and it's been giving me fits ever since I finished the play. It seems to me obvious that Aloysius is spinning this tale out of whole cloth in order to manipulate things to her liking (getting rid of the minority element, banishing one teacher she doesn't like and making another knuckle under to her own vision of the way things should be). But I'm not sure whether that should be quite as obvious as it is, or whether in fact I'm wrong about this entirely and the situation is supposed to be more ambiguous. That said, it's the only qualm I have about the play, which is written just as well as you'd expect something that garnered that many awards to be written (along with the Pulitzer, it pulled down a number of critical awards and four Tonys). The characters are perfectly drawn, the plot touches on issues that are probably more relevant today than they were in the sixties without getting heavy-handed about it (the play's single greatest achievement), and the dialogue is quick and sometimes, surprisingly, quite witty. This is good stuff, good stuff indeed. Highly recommended. **** ˝
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Initial post: Jan 31, 2011 12:22:20 PM PST
It is a wonderful parable, but if that's what you got out of it I think you need to read/watch it again. It absolutely cannot be taken at face value but every word and character needs to be analyzed. You may come to a completely different conclusion.
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