Monday, March 20, 2023

Doubt: A Parable—Lakewood Theatre Company—Lake Oswego

Black & White Equals Gray

    This drama is directed by Antonio Sonera and written by John Patrick Shanley.  It is playing through April8th at their space, 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego (free parking lot in the rear).  For more information on the show and Covid policies, go to their website or call 503-635-3901.

    It has been said, if you tell a Lie often enough to a populace, it begins to muddy the waters, as to what is really the Truth.  Related adages to this may be, “there’s a sucker born every minute” (P. T. Barnum).  John Huston also said, if there is a choice between printing the truth or the legend--print the legend…it is always much more palpable to the Public.  And, as always, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”  There are many ways to cloud an issue to one’s advantage…“and, thereby, hangs a tale” (Shakespeare).

    Father Flynn (Todd Hermanson) is the very popular Pastor and basketball coach of the Catholic school/church.  His sermons are always thought-provoking (for those who have open minds) but can be somewhat disconcerting to those who follow a rigid moral path.  He is vibrant, accessible, and always willing to lend an open hand to those in need, and a sympathetic ear to troubled souls.

    Sister Aloyisius (Diane Kondrat) is made of sterner stuff.  She is principal of the school and believes her teachers should be objective when dealing with students…coldly objective.  Her moral compass seems to be concentrate the religious content of teaching and finds secular items, such as the Arts and History, to be, at best, distracting to education.

    Sister James (Ariel Puls) is a naïve, young novice as a teacher and has a warm heart and caring nature toward her charges.  She wants them exposed to all of Nature’s wonders, so they will be prepared to cope when released into the “outside” world.  She tries to be obedient to Mother Superior but is fully enchanted by Father Flynn.

    Mrs. Muller (Victoria Alvarez-Chacon) is the mother of the only black student in the school, who is a sensitive boy, has no friends and is abused by his father.  She is wise to the manipulations of the “real” world and looking for solace for her son wherever she can find it.  She seems to see, through all the veils/facades of the other characters, their true nature and is not willing to compromise her son’s small island of peace for any of the high-faulting standards of those “in charge.”

    I cannot give you a description of the plot, because it would be a spoiler, in itself, to what happens and how you should feel about it.  The story is a microcosm, or parable, of the world.  I think you can imagine, with the descriptions I have given you of the characters, the conflicts that must inevitably occur.  The outcomes rest solely at our feet.

    Sonera has kept this dialogue at a clipped pace, which increases the intensity of the scenes, and is palpable. And his actors deliver it beautifully.  Hermanson is the perfect Flynn, as he plays it as an enigma, never sure what’s going on underneath.  Kondrat seems to personify the villain but she also rides that thin line between humane and seemingly restrictive feelings, which is marvelous to observe.  Puls is the innocent soul, being buffeted between opposing schools of thought but ultimately a feeling person.  And Alvarez-Chacon is a powerful presence in her one scene, possibly being the only sane one of the bunch.

    Any inferences to past and current activities within academia, social, religious, and political arenas is purely intentional, I’m sure.  Just see for yourselves the deeply divided areas plaguing folks, mainly because of social media, the blatant misinformation vomiting forth and infecting our lives.  It can only stop when we can call it out for what it is, like Mrs. Muller, who will try to make it better in her “own little corner of the world,” and then hopes that attitude will spread outward!

I     highly recommend this play but know that it is intense and may not be for everyone.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


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