John Patrick Shanley’s much-produced Pulitzer-winning play seems a peculiar choice for a Fringe production. With elegantly wrought plot, vivid character, and an insightful treatment of its issues—certainty, change, truth—DOUBT, A PARABLE is rightly considered a modern classic, but it’s hardly classic Fringe fare. Producers Way Off Broad St. Theater Company go some way to justifying its festival inclusion with a site-specific setting in a chapel of the Arch Street United Methodist Church and a solid take on an excellent play.
Father Brendan Flynn (Jason Cutts) stands before the altar and delivers a sermon on certainty (“Last year when President Kennedy was assassinated, who among us did not experience the most profound disorientation.”) Cutts gives Flynn a winsome amiability; he uses the father’s early scenes to charm audience with direct addresses. But Sister Aloysius (Kris Andrews plays the nun with a working class nobility), head of the Catholic school attached to Flynn’s church, has her doubts: she asks a young teacher, Sister James (Allison Kessler) to look out for untoward behavior between priest and boys. There is the odd stilted interaction in Pat DeFuso’s direction, stark under the chapel’s unforgiving lights, but the three leads (Volieda Webb rounds out the cast) bring their own personality and appeal to the familiar roles.
[Arch Street United Methodist Church, 55 North Broad Street] September 9-24, 2016; fringearts.com/doubt-parable-john-patrick-shanley.