Posted at 4:17 p.m., April 27, 2015

Watch the slideshow below for photos of the show.

Spring play a success, no 'Doubt' about it

It seems rare not only to have seen a play like this at a college campus but also to have been a part of it communally with the actors and audience. It is timelessly relevant and belongs in the clandestine world of 1964.

That’s how it was for Laramie County Community College’s April 25 stage adaptation of “Doubt: A Parable” by John Patrick Flannery, directed by LCCC theatre and communications instructor Jason Pasqua.

The play, set in the fall of 1964, tells of a situation that develops with a three-way standoff among Sister Aloysius (Patricia “Mac” Marino), Father Brendon Flynn (William Barkley) and Sister James (Adrianna True, Elizabeth Daly). After Father Flynn summoned a boy to the rectory alone and returned supposedly smelling of alcohol, Sister Aloysius suspected Flynn of improper behavior with the boy.

Making it their own

Yes, it was Flannery’s exact and merciless writing that gave the play its relevance, but it was Pasqua, a director with a strong vision, and the actors translating their roles memorably who created a performance that unfolded with precision and tension.

Told not just through a series of set pieces that are small yet wonderfully constructed and believably real for 1964, it was Pasqua and the actors’ use of the offstage area that really made the play a communal experience. Often throughout the play, when actors would look offstage and into the audience at what their characters perceived, I noticed a majority of that time the audience themselves took part in looking for the same things only to find themselves staring in the darkness of the seating area or right at their neighbor. It was, though, in those moments when I could see the audience be a part of the characters world just as they were for the play. It was this blocking, directing and acting through which the audience was really able to take hold of what they were experiencing.

And what they were experiencing was a conflict that had us thinking right from the beginning and not letting up. With the help of Flannery’s sharp inquiries of certainty in those with God on their side, Pasqua also didn’t let us forget that “Doubt” was not a riveting commentary on sexual abuse but more so a general conflict for the then 1964 and today: a conflict between status and change, old and new, faithfulness and ambivalence all enveloped in the relationships between not only Aloysius and Flynn but also many others.

Recognizing talent

Lest we forget the metaphor about spiritual crisis, admiration certainly went to the characters and the actors who played them. Of the many relationships found in the play, one stood out significantly and could possibly even have been overlooked. Of the many confrontations in the play, a discussion between Sister Aloysius and Mrs. Muller (Ty Camble), the students’ mother, gave the audience its most impactful moment. With Marino’s intimidating and spirit-breaking Aloysius and Camble’s brief but powerfully subtle Mrs. Muller, the two showed who the real equals were in the production, cutting deep into their roles. Marino throughout the play brought to the character, unlike Meryl Streep, who portrayed the same character in the 2008 film adaptation by the playwright, an emotional weight that made us feel her burden as an unbending servant of God in a code of right and wrong. While Marino taunted, Camble stayed true to her character, playing vulnerability and conviction well in the hear-no-evil but compassionate mother.

Others who stole the scenes were Barkley’s Father Flynn and True’s Sister James. Even with characters so different, Flynn, a progressive and possibly flawed priest, and James, an impressionable and naive nun, the two actors found relatability, strove for kindness, found it and hit their marks.

In its story summation, “Doubt” left us doubting, but the acting and directing had us doing more. “My cast and I want people to engage in discussion after it’s finished,” Pasqua said. The allurement of Flannery’s “Doubt” was its power to give us ideas to think about, but the performance of “Doubt” had the magic to push those thoughts even further out the door as we went with them.

Play to provoke personal perspectives