Doubt: Next Stage, Mission Theatre, Bath
Doubt Next Stage Mission Theatre, Bath It is credit to the vision of Ann Garner and the quest for new, compelling and thought provoking drama that Next Stage continues to rise to the very top of their game and by securing the rights to premier Doubt in Bath, as with Butterworth's Jerusalem, the team score again. The setting is ideal, The Mission restored to its chapel splendour with the original altar rails and candles and the small cast work seamlessly together to create an insight into 1960s Bronx Catholic school. At the centre of the allegations is the popular and likeable Father Brendan Flynn (Jason Lemoir), accused and vilified by Sister Aloysius (Caroline Groom) leaving the innocent and trusting Sister James (Yvonne Paulley) in utter personal turmoil. The performances are excellent, Lemoir as Flynn gives nothing away as he fights for his innocence, the wonderful parable of the pillow so utterly topical. This appears to be a baseless attempt to sabotage his popularity. However, as the play unfolds and the accusations mount it is hard to know who to believe and with his future intact is it more terrifying or a relief that he is away from the empty campaign? Caroline Groom captures the dry, cold and fiercely protective Aloysius, allowing her to apparently bulldoze Flynn's career to the ground because of her singular belief, yet even in the drama's final moments her tears are questionable as to whether her actions were right or the fact that Flynn's future is far different than she had planned. Yvonne Paulley creates an innocent young nun with a love of life and children gradually being eroded by the bitter acerbic tongue of Aloysius who informs her "innocence is a form of laziness" and as all the other characters is left with her own Doubt. Pauline Part as Mrs Muller brings a great voice of reason and reflects the real fight of the people in the Bronx who need to get by and get on with the hand that life has dealt them. The ever relevant but always disconcerting allegations of child abuse run throughout. I am sure the BBC would listen to the pillow parable with utter despair at their lack of action. However the great device here is that you never have an answer and so the animated conversations both in the interval and after the performance are proof enough that this production will pose far more questions than it answers, much to its credit. Performances run until Saturday at 7.30pm Box Office: 01225 428600/ 01225 463362 or online: www.bathboxoffice.org.uk Petra Schofield
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