Archikulture Digest

Doubt – A Parable

Doubt – A Parable

By John Patrick Shanley

Directed by Beth Marshall

Starring Michael Wanzie and Ginger Lee McDermott

Beth Marshall Presents

The Garden Theater, Winter Garden FL</strong><P>

There are two typical outcomes of Catholic School: you find a teacher that inspires your love of learning and the Saints, or they beat the crap out of your knuckles. The first option comes from avuncular Father Flynn (Wanzie). He coaches basketball, holds bull sessions with the boys and he is often the only male figure in a boy’s life who doesn’t beat him. The second option is entombed in Sister Beauvier (McDermott). She runs a tight ship and takes no guff from anyone, including innocent Sister James (Chelsey Panisch). Sister Beauvier is convinced Father Flynn is abusing the single lonely black student, and she sets off to bring him down. The evidence is scant, the suppostions are long and shadowy, and there’s no solid evidence either way. But she fears no one and nothing in the world including hellfire and damnation in her pursuit of the truth. He’s Saint Frances, shes the Spanish inquisition. Did he do it? He’s not confessing, but this IS his 3rd parish in five years.

A story like this doesn’t drift along; it must be born on the backs of a powerful cast. Fortunately, that’s what we have even to the point that Mr. Wanzie nearly went into to the priesthood. He’s imposing but gentle here and you feel he’s applying his fatherly impulse to help young men in need of help. Ms. McDermott is equality strong as the negative force. She suspicious and dogged and has time left after acting as a second layer of defense in the war against teen age shenanigans. One of her front line teachers is the innocent and engaging Ms. Panisch; she loves learning and loves history and that is not acceptable at St. Nicholas: education in this parish must suck any joy out of intelligence, thus guaranteeing a compliant, superstitious and bigoted parishioners. Who else would put up with this crap? The fourth leg of this educational table is Mrs. Muller, the mother of this unseen minority child. She sees St. Nicholas as her boy’s chance to get into a good college and out of this world of diminished expectation and racism. If there’s a hint of impropriety, so be it. Her son is “different” and her husband beats him for it. Anything Father Flynn does HAS to be gentler.

The topic of priestly impropriety is nothing new, it was a running joke in the National Lampoon Magazine in the 1970’s and goes back centuries before that. We achieve no moral judgment here, but rather focus on the damage suspicion and gossip inflict. The strict strictures of the church cut both ways: Sister Beauvier has no way to bypass her compliant and possible complicit management, and Father Flynn has no way to recover his public reputation. It’s a balance that can be easily exploited by either side; leave smart people around complex power structures long enough and they WILL abuse them. Maybe Ms. Muller’s boy can escape, but maybe he’ll just graduate from one trap to another. Those in power rarely welcome questions, and questioners learn to shut up or get squashed. That’s the will of God as explained by Sister Aloysius Beauvier.

For more information on Beth Marshall Presents visit http://bethmarshallpresents.wordpress.com/

For more information on other The Garden Theatre events, please visit www.gardentheatre.org


Recently on Ink 19...

Henry V

Henry V

Archikulture Digest

Blood, guts, and kicking butt in France — it’s the age-old story of Shakespeare. Carl F. Gauze once again enjoys the salacious violence and complicated plot points of Henry V, in the moody dark of Orlando Shakes.

New Music Now 011: Nora O’Connor

New Music Now 011: Nora O’Connor

Features

On today’s New Music Now, Judy Craddock talks to our musical guest, Nora O’Connor, about her solo album, My Heart, and the captivating new music she’s listening to right now. Tune in for great music, and more ’90s references than you can shake a scrunchie at.

Big Time Gambling Boss

Big Time Gambling Boss

Screen Reviews

Writer Kazuo Kasahara and director Kôsaku Yamashita transcend genre conventions to create the memorable film Big Time Gambling Boss. Phil Bailey reviews.

Frank Bello

Frank Bello

Features

Frank Bello’s new memoir Fathers, Brothers, and Sons: Surviving Anguish, Abandonment, and Anthrax takes us from a New York childhood, to Anthrax stadium tours, to fatherhood with the charming informality of a conversation with an old friend. Then I’m Gone, Bello’s first solo EP, provides accompaniment. Joe Frietze reviews.

%d bloggers like this: