“Doubt” is a brilliantly constructed labyrinth of a show that everyone who sees it seems to have a different take on, merely one of many reasons why it is the most compelling new play to come along in recent memory. The genius of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama—and make no mistake, it is the writing that is the real star of this show, despite the many well-deserved accolades and awards that have been heaped on those involved with it—is that every audience member experiences a different show based on the baggage that each brings into the theater. Is this the anatomy of an arrogant, manipulative gossip-wielding and racist Mother Superior who sees dark shadows behind everything from secular Christmas carols to bad penmanship and long fingernails and reads a sinister motivation into a priest’s innocent friendship with the first black student in her school circa 1964? Or, is this the anatomy of an extraordinarily courageous woman’s deductive reasoning and unselfish actions who puts her own position and reputation behind protecting the vulnerable children entrusted to her Providential care by unmasking a dangerous pedophile? Shanley himself has wisely and repeatedly chosen not to supply an answer and every word in the play can magnificently support both possible polar-opposite interpretations, not to mention a myriad of possibilities in between. Cherry Jones reprises her Tony Award-winning role in this ultra-rare national-touring production of a cutting-edge Broadway play that is as memorable a theatrical experience as you are likely to have in a long, long time. (Dennis Polkow)
“Doubt” plays at LaSalle Bank Theatre, 18 West Monroe, (312)902-1400, through January 28.