My first exposure to John Patrick Shanley was in 2006 when I saw "Doubt" on Broadway with Cherry Jones. The show moved me to the point of sending Shanley a shameless email thanking him for his work. From that point forward, I was a convert. I studied his other works of brilliance including "Beggar in a House of Plenty", "The Dreamer Examines his Pillow" and "Kissing Christine".
Shanley has a way of crafting dark humour, draping in metaphor and allowing it to jump off the stage and lead you to a dismal conclusion. Shanley audiences never leave the theatre unaffected.
Last night was no exception. I had the pleasure of watching Bygone Theatre's production of "Doubt" in a capacious ecclesiastical hall at the University of Toronto. Though I don't think Bygone would term this piece a "site-specific", I absolutely did. I felt, the entire time, as though I was sitting in a chapel and, when in Sister Aloysius' office, I literally felt as though I was peering straight through a wall. Emily Dix, up-and-coming Toronto-based stage director, did a fantastic job staging seamless set transitions in order to use the unconventional space to her advantage.
Shanley's scripts are rhetoric-heavy and, at times, hard to perform but the acting in Bygone's production took it to it's best. Though hasty at times last night, the pace of the show was authentic and accompanied by fantastic sound design.
Bygone's production closes tonight at 8 PM at the UC East Hall on University of Toronto campus. For details: http://www.bygonetheatre.com/#!doubt-a-parable/c8d0
For a clip from Broadway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO1KHNw8BwQ