★★★★★ | Doubt, a Parable, Southwark Playhouse, London
It’s Autumn 1964 and young priest Father Brendan Flynn doesn’t fit into the spartan and puritanical ideals of the school as run by sour faced Sister Aloysius. He’s all warmth and casual attitude, bouncing a basketball around with the boys. Her view of the school system is one where art is a frippery, the children should be contained and disciplined and pastoral care involves telling people to buck their ideas up. Her ever watchful gaze is centred on Flynn and when a young nun divulges her suspicions of inappropriate behaviour between Father Flynn and a pre-pubescent boy she appears to relish the chance to get rid of him and launches into decisive and cunning action.
If you want big acting shoes to fill then look no further than ‘Doubt’. This 2005 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play was made into an astoundingly good film with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep as the warring priest and nun. This version has pulled together an accomplished cast with Stella Gonet as the terrifying yet eminently human Sister Aloysius. It;’s a dense, dialogue heavy play that’s an intense ninety minutes but one that passes in a flash and will set you cogitating as you consider the facets of the situation and the personalities concerned. Oh, as well as thinking about that little matter of the truth. Much like life, there aren’t any wholly good or bad or stupid or clever people only people on a spectrum constantly sliding somewhere between the two.
The confined space of a fringe theatre like Southwark Playhouse suits this piece as you get to see every thought flit across each face and the intensity ramps up a notch or two. This is a rarity: an entertaining and rousing play that’s also intelligent and thought provoking. Go see it.
Doubt, a Parable, plays at the Southwark Playhouse, London until 30th September 2017