Local theatre company Dark Unicorn productions have certainly got off to a good start with their inaugural production of Doubt: A Parable.
The play is set in the fictional St Nicholas Church School in New York in 1964 and depicts a battle of preserving integrity against mistrust between Father Flynn and school principal Sister Aloysius, played by Paddy Cooper and Deborah Kearne respectively.
The drama starts with a sermon from Father Flynn who addresses the value of uncertainly: “Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty,” he says.
The next scene introduces Sister James (Eleanor Stourton) the younger and overly hopeful nun, who is soon alerted to Sister Aloysius’ desire to enforce her own strict rules of discipline to the school regardless of others’ ideas.
It’s a dynamic and absorbing relationship between actor and audience when sitting no more than five or six feet away- it’s quite something.
The performances by the small cast are plucky and the Irish/New York twang is authentic throughout.
The play runs along at a good pace and the use of the one door in-and-out between scenes works well. The controversy over Donald Muller, the schoolchild at the heart of the story allows for good exploration of social and cultural differences with Donald’s mother (Sabina Arthur) bringing another viewpoint to the sense of loyalty.
The cleverness in Doubt is the fact that it leaves the audience to make its own moral judgement. It’s easy to see how the playwright, John Patrick Shanley, won a Pulitzer prize and enjoyed more than 500 nights in New York’s Manhattan.
It’s well worth the ticket price for a 75 minute show on your doorstep! Doubt is on at Printers Playhouse until Saturday February 23. Tickets £10 are available on www.darkunicorn.org or by calling Printers Playhouse on 01323 301333. By Stuart Large.