“doubt” at geva theatre

i’ve been interested in this play ever since playwright john patrick shanley’s interview on npr. i followed the play’s fortunes off broadway and read the reviews. cherry jones won widespread accolades. all in all, the play didn’t do too badly – it won the 2004 pulitzer prize, the tony award and every critics’ award. unfortunately, i still hadn’t seen it.

imagine my joy when i found out that “doubt” was coming to geva theatre. my husband had his own doubts – the last (and only) time he had been to geva was to see a vapid “camelot”. we had just moved to rochester from the nyc area and were sorely underwhelmed by the lackluster staging of this larger-than-life arthurian legend. long story short, my husband had vowed never to return to geva.

however, i could figure that this 3-character play was going to be a completely different affair – not a big stage production, but rather a study in character acting. i bought 2 tickets and we went to see the play last weekend. it was terrific.

it’s the writing that hits you first. it has a sharpness and sparkle that’s very new york. it’s witty and profound all at once. i found the subject matter very thought-provoking – not just its reality-based depiction of scandal in the inner sanctum of a closed, rigidly hierarchical system such as the catholic church, but on a broader level, the yin and yang between doubt and certitude and the values society or religion ascribes to each. when does certitude become fanaticism? when does doubt become moral ambiguity? these are important questions to ask in today’s world.

sean patrick reilly gives a nuanced performance, undulating dangerously between the roles of charismatic, hands-on, accessible priest before his congregation; self-important, bullying man when locked in a power struggle; and perhaps morally tepid, unrepentant child molester in private life?

but it’s judith delgado who steals the show. she is a powerhouse of wit and obstinate determination. we hate and admire her. there are no cracks in her shield of arrogant conviction until the very end of the play, when we are reminded of the dangers of absolute certainty, untempered by doubt.

doubt poster

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