The Indiana Repertory Theatre currently has John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play "Doubt" on its main stage. The 90-minute production touches on many of the controversial issues that tend to be hot buttons in our culture. Though it's set in a Catholic school in 1964, the topics of race, religion and abuse are timeless in their application.
The plot follows Sister Aloysius as she accuses a priest, Father Flynn, of abusing a student. He denies it and she vows to find the truth.
Though the initial description may sound like an uncomfortable sermon, it's nothing of the sort. It sheds light on subjects often left in the dark. The thin line between holding someone accountable for their actions or just accusing someone of a crime without proof are tested as the characters struggle with their own views.
This is a show influenced by whatever religious background or beliefs that each individual brings with them. The play must first filter through those elements before attendees can make up their own minds about what they think happened. Steeped in ambiguity, the cast does a wonderful job leaving questions unanswered and open to interpretation. They demonstrate how when seeds of doubt are planted, it takes very little to make them grown.
Sister Aloysius, expertly played by IRT veteran Priscilla Lindsay, is quick to see the worst in people. Lenny Von Dohlen as Father Flynn, on the other hand, is charming and brings a sweet humor to the show.
Sister James is caught between the warring Flynn and Aloysius. Her innocent and trusting nature is swayed by the slightest breeze, not because she is weak, but because she wants to please and trust others.
The set was stark and beautiful. Metal, fence-like trees and wooden, stiff back chairs line the stage, demonstrating the strict perimeters the school forces upon both students and staff. The musical score has a haunting quality and leads the audience from scene to scene with grace.
Perhaps the highlight of the show is the post show discussion held after some of the performances. These talks give audience members a chance to ask questions of the cast and crew and even voice their own opinions. The IRT always does a wonderful job provoking thought and conversation. As Steven Stolen, the theater's managing director, said just before the show,
"We like to think the play is the first act. The second act begins when you go home and discuss it."
Don't Miss the Show
Performances: The show runs until Saturday Feb. 9 on IRT's Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.
Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $34.
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.
*Photo Courtesy of Indiana Repertory Theatre