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Doubts about Shanley’s ‘Doubt’ at Walnut’s Studio 3BY: Jackie Atkins 04.06.2012
Deep down, even a hard-assed nun is a woman, right? Which means she’s a sexual creature. And if a charismatic priest doesn’t pay attention to her, well….
Doubt. By John Patrick Shanley; John Peakes directed. Through April 15, 2012 at Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio 3, 825 Walnut St. (215) 574-3550 or www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org.
Without a DoubtJACKIE ATKINS
What follows is a précis of a conversation I had with a first date (and probably last date) as we drove back to Cape May after seeing the Walnut Studio 3’s production of Doubt.
Happy Shopkeeper: Wasn’t that the best ending? I don’t think the priest did anything with the boy, ya know.
Me: You’ve got to be kidding, right?
HS: No, I have no doubt about this.
Me: So where there’s smoke, there isn’t any fire?
HS: That nun was old school. She’d see a sinful act in dropping an eraser.
Me: The priest tanked the kid up with sacramental wine.
HS: He was trying to help him cope. He was the only black kid in the school.
Me: He’s a priest, not your neighborhood bartender. Besides, the nun said she saw the guy touching the boy.
HS: Don’t tell me about nuns. They’re all nuts. I had one rap a metal ruler across my hands because I didn’t arch my hand properly during a piano lesson. Crazy ladies, all of them, telling you to keep your hands up on the desk for purity’s sake. What was that all about? We were kids.
Me: So you’re letting your personal demons concerning nuns decide for you?
HS: I’m just saying, an older woman, set in her ways, can’t contend with a young virulent charismatic man, much less someone who’s her superior. The priest openly challenged her sexuality.
Me: She was a nun, for the love of God. She didn’t have any sexuality.
HS: But you see, that’s where you’re mistaken. All women have repressed sexual feelings for authoritative men. It’s in the genes. So here you had this 60ish woman, wallowing in her rigidity, confronted with the blatantly unrepressed Father, a new ecumenical man in the priesthood, not her doddering old pastor; a man she had never contended with before; a sensitive soul with a masculine body. A man willing to be empathetic yet strong. So what does she do?
Me: She tells a younger nun to watch out for any signs of hanky- panky between the kid and the priest.
HS: Precisely. Because she was jealous. She wanted the priest to give his full-time attention to her.
Me: What make you so sure?
HS: Happens every time. It’s a fact of life. When a woman can’t get a man, she sets out to destroy him.
Me: Let Me get this straight. We’re talking about a Catholic parochial school, a principal, a nun who was so sexually starved she fabricated a story about a priest and a boy because she couldn’t have the priest for herself?
HS: Happens every time. Every woman wants to be the center of attention with any man around her. Amazing, isn’t it?
Me: Isn’t it.
HS: Oh, I’m so right. Somehow I even surprise myself with my insight. Ya wanna know why?
Me: Because you’re so wrong?
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