Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Greenbelt Arts Center Doubt: A Parable

By • Feb 1st, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley
Greenbelt Arts Center
Greenbelt Community Arts Center, Greenbelt, MD
Through February 12th
1:40 without intermission
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Reviewed January 29th, 2011

In the fall of 1964, rumors of mysterious circumstances arise regarding the behaviour of parish priest Father Flynn with one of the male students at St. Nicholas Catholic School. School principal Sister Aloysius, armed with her belief that sexual misconduct has occurred, looks to bring the priest to justice. But is he really innocent as he claims, or are her instincts right?

This emotional play was well directed by first time director Bob Kleinberg. Its pace was steady, with quick scene changes not disrupting the flow of the play. His set design allowed for four unique playing areas without requiring scenery to be moved during the play, assisted by Dennis Giblin’s light design. Malca Giblin’s costumes contributed to the somber mood of the production. One minor concern is the deep stage made the audience feel removed from several scenes, so we recommend sitting as close to the front row as possible.

Each of the four actors appeared to have definite goals for their characters, and each was successful in communicating their goals. Brendan Murray as Father Flynn was able to change between stern but caring teacher to friendly and gruff basketball coach, to kind and frightened teacher. Murray ably changed his emotions as the verbal barbs from Sister Aloysius (Michelle Trout) were thrown at him. Trout also was very effective, with her emotions running the gamut from her self-righteous attitude through to despair over the decisions she’d made. Compassionate Sister James (Catie Brown) struggled with complying to Sister Aloysius’ counsels. Brown’s expressions of trust and joy contrasted nicely with her realizations that the world is a dark place. Aurielia L. Spencer as Mrs. Muller, the mother of the student, was afraid and appeared to be beaten down by the world’s constant attacks on her family.

Greenbelt Arts Center’s solid production of Doubt: A Parable offers many opportunities for discussions about the motives of each of the show’s characters. Did he, or didn’t he? Should she, or shouldn’t she? Will she or won’t she? Check out this production and decide for yourself.

Director’s Notes

As I stepped into the director’s role I sensed something. This was a new path for me so I’d start wondering. “Was the right course to take?” Could I convey the author’s concepts?” Suddenly, I found that I was feeling doubt!

So, what is Doubt?

Webster’s dictionary holds that it is “a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality or nature of something.” But it seems to me that this is too simple, too anesthetic. The feeling of doubt is more guttural, more stealthier — it creeps in, like dark clouds of foreboding smothering your very certainty. What one day seems like the clearest, most sensible decision or path has slow1ly turned dim and murky. It is now up to you and your faith — in your reasoning, your beliefs, and/or yourself — to keep you moving forward.

Yet while doubt often seems like an emotionally overwhelming experience, its creation can also be a positive, useful tool in combating uncompromising resolute behavior. Carefully thought out logic can break down the barriers of unsupported arguments, allowing the fresh air of reason to bring a sensible perspective. This expression of “doubt” can be intellectually challenging and emotionally strengthening.

It is often said that Doubt, A Parable has two acts. The first act occurs at the theatre, as the audience members watch each character’s emotional arc come to pass. The second act occurs afterwards as each audience member traverses his or her own arc from discussing the play’s surface context (the innocence or guilt of Father Flynn) to exploring each character’s doubts and how they dealt with them.

I hope you will enjoy tonights “first act” and I further hope that you walk away afterwards engrossed in your own “second act” as you discuss whose doubts were overwhelming and whose were strengthening.

As for me, as our talented actors became their characters, and as our imaginative set crew created St. Nicholas Church, my clouds of doubt began to disperse. Thanks for all your hard work.


Photo Gallery

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Photos by Randy Barth.


  • Father Brenden Flynn: Brenden Murray
  • Sister Aloysius Beauvier: Michelle Trout
  • Sister James: Caity Brown
  • Mrs. Muller: Aurielia L. Spencer


  • Director: Bob Kleinberg
  • Producer: Malca Giblin
  • Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Wynne Kleinberg
  • Set Design: Bob Kleinberg
  • Props/Set Dressing: Malca Giblin
  • Lighting Design: Dennis Giblin
  • Sound Design: Michael Nemeth
  • Costume Design: Malca Giblin
  • Set Construction: Stephen Cox, Jeffrey Lesnick, Bob Kleinberg, Wynne Kleinberg
  • Set Painting: Erica Drezek
  • Lighting Technicians: Dennis Giblin, John Smallwood
  • Sound Technicians: Michael Nemeth, Alex Lee
  • Publicity Photograph: Ron E. Wilder
  • Photographer: Randy Barth
  • Program/Poster Design: Betsy Marks Delaney, Malca Giblin

Disclaimer: Greenbelt Arts Center provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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One Response »

  1. I saw the national tour of “Doubt” when they played at the Hippodrome several years back. Since a week ago Friday, when I saw the GAC production for the first time, independent conversations I’ve had with other audience members have confirmed my opinion. I’m confident that it’s no exaggeration when I say this production is one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. I may be GAC’s GM, but I’m also a theatre lover. This show’s a winner and more people should be seeing it. Only two weekends left. Don’t miss out!