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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Theatre review: Doubt: A Parable is masterful

In a cozy nest above the Penthouse strip club lies a jewel for Vancouver audiences

Seven Tyrants Theatre has produced a masterful production of Doubt: A Parable with a tight design that packs a punch.

Written in 2004 by John Patrick Shanley, Doubt pits chilly Sister Aloysius, against the charming Father Flynn, with sweet Sister James caught in the middle.

After observing a seemingly innocuous moment between Father Flynn and one of the schoolboys, Sister James must choose between the warm refutations of Flynn, and the fiery certainty of Sister Aloysius. Doubt asks us why we choose the sides we choose and what we’re willing to sacrifice to be proven right.

Olivia Lang’s mousy confusion as Sister James is a testament to her skill; the perfect counterpoint to the towering figures on either side. David Thomas Newham’s Father Flynn is not the fire and brimstone preacher of the past, but his lack of fire does cause his sermons to fall flat. His performance is strong, but not as nuanced as that of the fantastically icy Tallulah Winkelman as Sister Aloysius, whose deft physicality brings truth and love to an otherwise heartless character. As Mrs. Muller, Liza D’Aguilar’s subtle refusal to engage, or even look at Sister Aloysius over the care of her son was evocative but distracting.

The set design by Lynda Chu is a neat split space that gives equal presence to office and outdoors. It is an unapologetic set providing precisely what is needed and no more, echoing the character of Sister Aloysius. Daniel Deorksen’s sound design enhances the tension while maintaining the tone and adding a cheeky dash of commentary.

Doubt is more than a parable. It is a message, a commentary, and a statement all at once. Seven Tyrants Theatre has once again proven that they are ones to watch.

Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Bill Devine. A Seven Tyrants Theatre production. On stage at Tyrant Studios (1019 Seymour St, Vancouver) until December 14. Visit for tickets and information.

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