Review: ‘Doubt’ at Chautauqua Playhouse


Who is guilty? Who is overly suspicious?

Who is guilty? Who is overly suspicious?

Photo courtesy of Chautauqua Playhouse

Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Through 3/3; $19-$21;
Chautauqua Playhouse,
5325 Engle Road in the La Sierra Community Center,
(916) 489-7529,
Rated 4.0

A suspicious Mother Superior, convinced of the worst in everyone, comes into conflict with a progressive young priest who takes, perhaps, a little-too-personal interest in a young male student at the church school. Doubt, subtitled A Parable, is a battle of wills that plays off the audience’s experiences of racism (the young boy is African-American) and of the Catholic priest sex scandal.

Sister Aloysius, played by Lee Marie Kelly with unwavering certainty until the very end, makes it her mission to remove Father Brendan Flynn (T.S. Hamilton) from the priesthood—or at least from “her” church. Hamilton plays Father Flynn with a humility that befits a priest, but who, when pushed, can and does fight back.

Playwright John Patrick Shanley plants seeds of doubt from the beginning, but gradually becomes more critical of the nun’s insistence on the priest’s guilt. A young, idealistic teacher, played by Sophie Blackburn, becomes the audience surrogate, trying to determine which of the two is right. Blackburn is in a tough position, given a role that is not as well-written as the other two.

The well-regarded theatrical couple of Bob and Rosemarie Gerould direct the play and draw strong performances, including from Sarina Krastev as the mother of the young student in question.