Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Doubt: A Parable

The Adobe Theater
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Also see Carole's review of This Is Modern Art and Carla's review of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Eric John Werner, Sarah Kesselring,
and Stephanie Jones

Photo by Lorri Oliver
Set in the Bronx in 1964, Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley premiered in 2004 at the Manhattan Theatre Club and later transferred to Broadway for a 525-performance run. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics, and Tony best play awards. The play has been performed around the world, and a 2008 film adaptation starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, directed by Mr. Shanley, garnered several awards nominations.

On the surface, the four-character one-act play with a short running time is an ideal vehicle for any community theater. Alas, the four characters demand excellent actors who can handle language well and have considerable stage presence. Fortunately, veteran director Nancy Sellin has found four talented actors to embody the three women and one man in this Adobe Theater production.>/p>

Stephanie Jones plays Sister Aloysius Beauvier beautifully, with every word and movement precise and calculated. The Sister's foil, Father Flynn, is played by Eric John Werner, whose human decency embodies every role he plays. Sarah Kesselring is spot-on as Sister James, the well-meaning, young and innocent teacher/nun. Danielle Fisher Johnson makes her Albuquerque theatre debut as Mrs. Mueller, bringing her acting experience in television and film to this complex role. She is a welcome addition to the Albuquerque theater family.

The physical elements of the play are appropriately subdued and bleak, and represent the setting of a Catholic school well. Mrs. Muller brings a little color onto the stage with her soft peach coat. Father Flynn's vestments are bright green satin. The nuns are in dull black habits, of course. Costumer Carolyn Hogan has signaled the conflict among the characters.

The play questions the ethics of so many social issues. The Catholic clergy's role in the molestation of young students is at the heart of the questions raised. Yet there is a feminist taint to the proceedings. Sister Aloysius has little power against the powerful patriarchy of the church. Perhaps she has developed her absolute certainty and devious behavior as a reaction to this hierarchy.

Should we have doubt? Is it possible to know the right way to do everything? Is doubt a weakness? What is the truth? Is certainty a virtue or a curse? In today's world of extreme advocacy and confrontation, is anything really black and white? Should one just try to go along to get along?

At the end of the play we are left with more questions than answers. Perhaps this is as it should be. Doubt is uncomfortable and uncertain and we must learn to live with it and still try to be kind and loving. If I remember my Catholic education correctly, this is called grace.

The Adobe Theater production of Doubt: A Parable will get you thinking and stay with you after the lights have gone down. This is what good theater should do.

Doubt: A Parable runs through March 15, 2020, at The Adobe Theater, 9813 4th Street NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m. General Admission $20, discount $17. For tickets and information visit or call 505-898-5222.

Directed by Nancy Sellin. Cast: Eric John Werner, Stephanie Jones, Sarah Kesselring, Danielle Fisher Johnson.