Doubt: A Parable


JAKE ARNOTT is left with not a single one about the quality of this production.

Corpus Playroom, 19th-23rd June, 7pm, £5-6

[rating: 4/5]

Directed by Niall Wilson

Certainty or doubt? Niall Wilson’s gripping production asks us to question not only whether certainty is within reach, but whether it is even to be desired. Set in the Bronx of the sixties, in the stifling confines of that most doubt-ridden of institutions – the Catholic Church – the play follows the absolute, unshakeable certainty of Headmistress Sister Aloysius that Father Flynn, the school’s priest, is molesting children.

Liane Grant’s Sister Aloysius is the lynchpin of the production, and her performance is unwaveringly assured. Her control as an actress is formidable, and she fully inhabits her role as the hard-edged stickler, allowing her to bring out the deep subtleties of the character. Equally impressive is Max Upton as the enigmatic and troubled Father Flynn, and it is the encounters between these two characters which focus the play’s slow-building intensity.

Upton’s magnetism onstage is undeniable, and only by the high technical standard set by Grant are the younger actor’s tiny, nit-picky slips shown up.

Victoria Rigby perfectly pitches her performance as the naive (or faux-naive?) Sister James – she is necessarily less interesting to watch, almost becoming a pawn between Aloysius and Flynn, but like Grant, Rigby brings a great subtlety to her performance, allowing the unstated ambiguities of her character to come through.

It is through the attractively innocent Sister James that the audience can become aware of the dangers of believing what we want to believe – the uncomfortable acknowledgement that certainty and complacency are not the same thing.

The slow pace of the opening scenes is mostly the result of the play’s very long fuse. The script is beautifully nuanced and the direction seamlessly inconspicuous, leading to some impressively muted exchanges. However, despite an excitingly portentous opening sermon from Upton, the first act does drag ever so slightly, which is perhaps paradoxically a result of a perfectly controlled production.

It almost doesn’t matter who, in the end, is right – but this talented and compelling cast will make you desperate to find out.

  • Sarah Collins

    a great show!

Get the best of The Tab on our app.

With a track record this appalling, how can anyone trust the NUS to tackle anti-Semitism?

Cambridge has a duty to make a stand and sting campuses across the country into action, writes Jewish student Adam Crafton

The Phases of an All-Nighter

Summary: Work work work work work

The NUS is a route to a better future, not the root of all evil – VOTE NO

I need the NUS to support me and all the other minorities this privileged university bubble contains

What not to say to someone with depression

No, they can’t just ‘snap out of it’

, Argument Editor

Predicting Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge of Man Utd

12 months with The Special One

, National Editor

Are these the most pointless Uber journeys ever?

Mate it’s just down the road

How much of a commitment-phobe are you?

If you like it, please don’t put a ring on it

, Assistant Editor

What living with a bi-polar parent taught me about mental illness

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s fake

, Scottish Correspondent of The Tab

Uni life at Cambridge made me nearly kill myself, calling dad stopped me

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under thirty in the UK