This week four USM students will take on the Portland Stage in a production of Doubt, the 1960s drama set in St. Nicholas’, a New York catholic school.
A Pulitizer-prize winning stage play written by John Shanley will be under the direction of USM professor of theatre William Steele.
Amidst the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination, the small Catholic school is faced with challenges to their traditional conservatism. Sister Aloysius, played by junior theatre major Ashley Rood, believes there is reason to suspect the molestation of Donald Muller St. Nicholas’ first African-American student
Sister Aloysius suspects that parish priest, Father Flynn, played by sophomore theatre major, David Bliss has committed such a crime. Aloysius thinks this because of a one-on-one meeting between Flynn and the boy. Flynn insists that he was disciplining Donald for drinking altar wine. As the accusations continues, the stakes are raised, each character battling their stories to the point where the audience begins to doubt them both.
Appearing in her nonmusical, Ashley Rood has enjoyed the opportunity to experience the closeness of a small cast that is apparently, “itching for an audience,” said Rood.
Junior theatre major Pamela Smith, who plays the role Mrs. Muller (the mother of the molested child) describes the characters as intimate, and strategically so. “The playwright hit it on the head,” said Smith.
Both the bare bones cast and set design align with Shanley’s original intent for the show. The charm of the parish priest and the seemingly 100 percent certainty of Sister Aloysius convictions against the priest are opposing forces that create the doubt.
The African American student that Sister Aloysius believes was molested by Father Flynn is interesting eliminated from the casting list and stage altogether. The decisive exclusion of the boy from the casting list allows the show to approach a more mature audience with intensity.
“If the kid was in the production, you’d be able to tell based on his actions whether or not I [Father Flynn] was guilty,” said Bliss.
The performances will take place at Portland Stage Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb 8 at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday show on Feb 9 will be at 5 p.m. Doubt will continue to play the following weekend.
For more information about the show, times and ticket pricing visit the USM Theatre Department website at www.usm.maine.edu/theatre.