Uncertainty guaranteed in Civic’s ‘Doubt, A Parable’


By Zach Dunkin

Trevor Fanning will play the parish priest in “Doubt, A Parable.” (Submitted photo)

Trevor Fanning will play the parish priest in “Doubt, A Parable.” (Submitted photo)

When the curtain closes on “Doubt, A Parable” the audience exits without ever seeing the story’s alleged victim or even if there, indeed, was one. Did Father Flynn commit sexual misconduct in a private meeting with a student? Or is Sister Aloysius’ suspicion a result of her deep mistrust toward her students, fellow teachers and society in general? The audience is left to decide.

And it is up to Trevor Fanning to generate that air of uncertainty as he portrays the progressive parish priest in question. John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play runs Feb. 5-14 at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre.

“It’s an important and challenging task to create characters and situations which don’t reveal an outcome of guilt or innocence,” said Fanning, who will be making his Civic acting debut. “Part of my task in creating this character will be maintaining a sense of uncertainty, so that I don’t force the hand of the audience as to Father Flynn’s guilt or innocence, if it is even that black and white.”

The only thing black and white about “Doubt” are the habits worn by Lucy Fields, who portrays Sister Aloysius; and Jen Agnew, who plays Sister James, young teacher. Dena Taylor joins the sleek, four-actor cast as the boy’s mother, Mrs. Muller.

The play is set in the fictional St. Nicholas Church School in the Bronx in1965. The meeting between the student and Father Flynn sets off a conflict between the priest and principal Aloysius as she suspects the inappropriate behavior. Flynn explains he was only disciplining the boy for drinking altar wine.

“I think the powerful script, and the intimate way that our director (Jennifer Alexander) and the production team will present this play will have a great impact on Civic audiences, and, hopefully, be the catalyst for many conversations about how people come to conclusions about the certainty or doubt of what Father Flynn is being accused of,” Fanning said.

‘Doubt, A Parable’

Where: Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre.

When: Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m., Feb. 5-14

Tickets: $35 adults, $20 students, www.thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.