John Patrick Shanley's beautifully crafted play "Doubt" created quite a stir when it debuted in 2004. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama follows a nun's suspicions that a beloved parish priest may be a child molester, a very hot topic in 2004 and since.
While the audience is presented with information first suggesting the priest's innocence and then later his guilt, the ending leaves the audience with its own doubts as Shanley weaves his intricate web of truths and clever lies.
But the popularity of Shanley's play certainly isn't in doubt as two local theater companies present overlapping productions. It might be interesting to attend both productions and see if one or the other interpretation helps you decide Father Flynn's innocence or guilt.
The Drama Association of Rossmoor begins its run of "Doubt" at Rossmoor's Gateway Clubhouse at 2 p.m. Oct 29; and 2 and 7 p.m. Oct. 30. Performances continue at San Francisco's Our Lady of Lourdes Church at 3 p.m. Nov. 4; Walnut Creek's Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9; and 2 p.m. Nov. 10; and at Pleasant Hill's Christ the King Church at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16.
The Drama Association's cast features award-winning local actress Jean Wilcox as Sister Aloysius, Aaron Murphy as Father Flynn, Loretta Casalaina as Sister James and Mary Chapman as Mrs. Muller. Clive Worsley directs. Tickets will be available at the door for all performances. Call 925-330-9952.
Contra Costa Christian Theatre, in conjunction with Center Stage Theatre of Diablo Valley, presents its production of Shanley's drama Nov. 9—17 at Cue Productions Live in Concord.
Alexander Murphy directs with Beth Chastain as Sister Aloysius, Noelle Arms as Sister James, Edwin Peabody as Father Flynn, and Michelle Ianiro as Mrs. Muller. For more information and tickets, go to www.ccchristiantheatre.org.
Berkeley Repertory Company opened a strikingly powerful play with Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare's new adaptation of Homer's epic poem "The Iliad."
Directed by Peterson, "An Iliad" gives Homer's tale of the Trojan War new life in a mesmerizing production starring Henry Woronicz as the Poet with bassist extraordinaire Brian Ellingsen. With contemporary language and references, a sprinkling of humor, and the talents of Woronicz and Ellingsen, "An Iliad" becomes a searing critique of man's addiction to conflict.
Woronicz as the Poet not only "sings" the horrors of Troy but also depicts the savagery of all wars in a tour de force performance. An especially powerful sequence involved listing the overwhelming number of wars fought from ancient times to the present -- a very long list.
Adding immeasurably to the performance is Ellingsen with his upright bass. He manages to use all parts of the instrument plus nearby water pipes to create tension, add humor and fill the world of Troy with passion.
"An Iliad" continues through Nov. 18. Call 510-647-2949 or go to www.berkeleyrep.org.
Fall seems to be a time for powerful dramas and performances, including Eric Inman's original work "Bound By Blood." Directed by Michelle Ianiro, the show closes Oct. 27, at San Francisco's Boxcar Playhouse.
The story of a mother coming to terms with her son's sexuality and death includes local performers who have trekked across the Bay to perform the former Willows artistic director's premiere production. For tickets, call 925-550-7860.
On a lighter note, Butterfield 8 presents Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer," at Concord's Cue Productions Live through Nov. 4. Call 800-838-3006; www.brownpapertickets.com.
Contact Sally Hogarty at firstname.lastname@example.org.