Stone Soup Theatre, 4035 Stone Way N.E., stonesouptheatre.com. $14–$25. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., 4 p.m. Sun. Ends March 1.
John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt looks back to 1964, when pedophilia allegations were simply swept under the rug by the Catholic church and football programs. In this 2004 masterpiece, Sister Aloysius (Maureen Miko) becomes convinced that Father Flynn (Jaryl Draper) “interfered with” an altar boy. She encourages conflicted Sister James (Reagan Dickey) to align with her fight for his removal, a battle that culminates in a tearful meeting with the student’s mom (Eva Abram).
While the play creates questions about faith and transgression, one can be sure that Stone Soup’s show serves some stupendous performances. Draper’s fourth-wall-smashing sermonizing felt like mass. Miko’s nuanced and wry delivery induced snickers. That said, in such an intimate space, actors must be aware that their cries can be construed as contrived keening; director Maureen Hawkins might’ve turned down the volume a bit.
The only negative here is the limited set “design.” On a larger proscenium stage, the three locations called for in the script can be accomplished seamlessly. Yet this small, three-quarter arena forces sloppy scene changes more chaotic than careening carts at Fred Meyer. Kyle Handziak’s fussy yet unfinished-looking scenery further compounds this problem. Why is the pulpit—complete with wood splinters—made of untreated lauan and plywood? There’s a table adorned with flowers, a candy dish—or communion plate?—and a candelabra; it looks less like an altar than a dining-room table (though sans menorah, it must be noted). Luckily, lighting designer Chris Scofield’s stained-glass window effects informed me this was a sanctuary, not some TEDx thrift store.
Wailing and waste aside, every time I see this play, thoughts fire at a rapid pace. In this thrifty production, Shanley’s script is the star.