Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Without a Doubt

October 01, 2006

I had hesitated to see the LA visit of Mr. Shanley's 2005 play that opened at the Ahmanson this week. I had seen a local production of Doubt last year at the Pasadena Playhouse with Linda Hunt in the starring role and thought it was a remarkable play. I wan't sure I needed to see it again so soon, but thought it might be worth seeing Cherry Jones in the role. LA often receives Broadway hand-me-downs and cast and, direction-wise, many of them arrive largely intact, not unlike this production of Doubt. However, it is not unusual to end up sitting in the dark worndering "What were these people on the East Coast thinking about?"

Cherry Jones as Sister Aloysius Photo:Gary Friedman/LAT 2006

This time however, it all made immediate sense. Jones takes this very good play and makes it into a great one. Her performance was multi-faceted and completely mesmerizing. I found the final two climactic scenes almost devistating to the point of tears. The play itself seemed more nuanced and relevant and I felt much more affinity for its ability to ask questions without having to answer them all.

The other highlight of this afternoon fell into the category of "too-much-information" moments. I seem to have a propensity of overhearing or witnessing strange interactions in men's restrooms and today was no exception. Of course, weekend matinees are always a bit like visiting a nursing home with unusualy incompetent staff. While in the restroom, I overheard two senior gentlemen enter the restroom in mid-conversation. They used the urinals and one finished before the other and walked over to the sink. At this point his companion yelled out to him, "I see you don't have any prostate problems. I may be slow, but at least I don't have to go that often." Heart-warming optimism like this is hard to ignore.

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