Doubt is set in a Catholic School in the Bronx in 1964 and follows the diverse points of view of its four characters after Sister Aloysius expresses her doubt about the nature of Father Flynn’s relationship with the school’s first black pupil. Sister Aloysius reveals her concerns about Father Flynn to the inexperienced but enthusiastic Sister James. A verbal battle of wills ensues as Sister Aloysius instigates a campaign to remove the priest from the institution. The truth is never revealed and all four characters and the audience are left in doubt about the validity of their thoughts and judgments.
Doubt received its world premiere in 2004 Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club, later transferring to Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre where it won four Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize. The new UK production stars Dearbhla Molloy as the obstinate Sister Aloysius, Padraic Delaney as Father Flynn, Marcella Plunkett as Sister James and Nikki Amuka Bird as the student’s mother, Mrs Muller.
First night critics admired Doubt’s courage in tackling “vexed and unfashionable views” but felt that something was lacking in the overall narrative, making the production “a disappointment”. Opinions on Dearbhla Molloy and Padraic Delaney were also mixed; some found them “monotonous”, while others praised Molloy’s “superb performance”. There was praise for Nicolas Kent’s direction which turns “the screw at all the right places”, but it appears that, if critics are right, its future beyond Kilburn is “doubtful”.
- by Kate Jackson & Tom Atkins