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20.2.11

Doubt

by John Patrick Shanley

This play is un-DOUBT-ably amazing. *groan* I remember when it was playing on Broadway there were many discussions of "Who did you side with?" I only saw it once, but my friends who went more than once said they sided differently depending on the performances that night. I love that - it's truly an experience you can only have in the theatre. The film is brilliant, as well, but it's static. The beauty of live performance is that one actor may be slightly more convincing than the other that night.

Shanley has crafted a piece that is so subtle and just the right amount of ambiguous. As a culture, we always want to know who is right in any given argument, because it tells us who we should side with. The brilliance of Doubt is that we don't know who is right and therefore are left to question our own judgements and suspicions. If you were quick to assume that Father Flynn is guilty, what might that say about your point of view towards priests? As Flynn says:
The most innocent actions can appear sinister to the poisoned mind. 
News story after news story reveals corruption in the Catholic church, so it is an easy thing to believe that Father Flynn would take advantage of one of his altar boys. Sister Aloysius is vigilant in her pursuit of the truth, instructing that:
Every easy choice today will have its consequence tomorrow.
And yet, even she, a woman who believes that "Innocence is a form of laziness," has doubts by the end of the play. It is the scarier choice to believe that Flynn is innocent, because there is a boy's well-being at stake, but it is what we want to believe.

Much of this play is about faith. I don't just mean religious faith, but faith in people.
Faith is a buzzword these days and brings up different images for different people, but at its root it is about trusting. Trusting yourself, trusting others, trusting that we, as humans, are essentially good.

So, who did you side with?

Tomorrow's Play: The Great Divide - Day 18

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