Arts & Entertainment

'Doubt' a play about suspicion, accusation

Where there is doubt, there is speculation, and speculation can breed accusations, which may or may not be the truth.

That's the premise for the Richland Players' next production, which might very well be the most controversial and provocative undertaking in the theater's 60-year history.

Doubt is a 90-minute, one-act play written by John Patrick Shanley in 2005, and set in the Catholic school system of the Bronx in 1964. Shanley also wrote the screenplay for 1987's Moonstruck, which earned Cher a best actress Academy Award.

At issue in the story is an accusation made by an older nun against a young priest who she suspects of having an improper relationship with a young male student.

Barbara Wilson portrays Sister Aloysius, a hardened nun who does not approve of teachers showing compassion and friendship to students.

Geoff Elliott portrays Father Flynn, an idealistic young priest who is new to St. Nicholas Catholic School, and who is the exact opposite of Sister Aloysius, as he shows warmth and compassion toward the schoolchildren.

Casting the shadow of doubt amid these diverse personalities is a real world where many priests have been found guilty of sexually abusing the children they're supposed to be protecting.

The play leaves the audience wondering if Sister Aloysius is correct in her assumptions.

"There's definitely some thought-provoking issues happening in this play that relate very well to what's happening in the world today," said director Ellicia Mertens.

Other characters in the play include Sister James, played by Christy Humann, and Mrs. Muller, played by Jessica Ballard.

Sister James is an idealistic young nun who is torn between her duty to her Mother Superior and Flynn, whom she admires for his kindness and compassion.

Mrs. Muller is the mother of the boy Sister Aloysius suspects Flynn is abusing. The role of the boy is not portrayed in the play.

The film version of Doubt is scheduled to be released in December and stars Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead roles.

Doubt is an adult-themed play and not recommended for young children.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;