Sister James (played by Riley Browning) contemplates Father Flynn (John Winscher) in the Theatre Guild Valdosta production of ‘Doubt’ playing the next two weekends.

VALDOSTA – Given the talents of the small cast, Theatre Guild Valdosta presents an intense play ... without a doubt.

“Doubt” stars veteran Guild performer Patti Cook Robertson as Sister Aloysius (a role played by Meryl Streep in the film adaptation), John Winscher as Father Flynn, Riley Browning as Sister James and Tanya Glover as Mrs. Muller.

Robertson presents one of her most powerful and memorable performances as Sister Aloysius. Through the years, Robertson has created an entire population of characters and distinct personalities in dozens of Guild plays. Based on her convictions but no proof, Sister Aloysius suspects Father Flynn of improprieties with students. Aloysius is a rock that usually breaks all who oppose her. Robertson finds that hardness in Aloysius as well as nuances that keep the sister from becoming a caricature.

Winscher is on his way to creating his own gallery of memorable characters. He debuted with Theatre Guild last spring playing Constantine Bouc, the rail representative and the detective’s friend, in “Murder on the Orient Express.” Father Flynn is a far different character. Winscher plays him as a passionate individual, hounded by Aloysius, and alternatively haunted and outraged by her accusations. The play and Robertson required a strong foil to Sister Aloysius; Winscher is that man.

While Sister Aloysius is steeled by her convictions, Sister James is riddled with doubts. Most caused by Aloysius. Sister James doubts her abilities to teach, doubts the love she once had for teaching, doubts what she sees, doubts the accusations against Father Flynn but doubts her abilities to not report anything she sees that’s out of the ordinary to Aloysius. Sister James is one of the people broken by Sister Aloysius. Browning digs deep into the conflicted Sister James. She captures a soul caught in the whirlwind of events beyond her control though weighted by a ballast of guilt believing she set events in motion.

Tanya Glover as Mrs. Muller may well steal the show. She plays the mother of the student whom Sister Aloysius believes has been abused by Father Flynn. Aloysius wants to share her convictions with Mrs. Muller, believing she will find an ally against Flynn. Glover has the shortest stage time of the four characters. Just one scene but it is one of the most charged scenes in the play. Perhaps, it’s most intense scene. Glover makes the most of every moment, giving a very real, emotional performance as a mother accustomed to being caught in forces beyond her control at home, at work, by society. During their confrontational meeting, Glover’s Muller gives Robertson’s Aloysius as good as she gets.

Kassandra Morris lands her directorial debut with gut-punching impact. In a preview interview, she said given her cast, she didn’t have to worry about directing the acting.

Morris did choose a smart cast but she also stages them brilliantly.

Actors usually want to roam the stage while delivering dialogue. Morris keeps them pinned down, seated across from one another or beside one another or stationed behind a pulpit. Morris’ blocking intensifies what’s happening, emphasizes playwright John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer-winning words, concentrates the actors on what’s being said and what’s not being said. Keeping the audience focused on words, facial expressions, body language.

Morris said she wants audience members to talk about the play on the way home, that audiences will walk away with different conclusions and she hopes the play will have them debating their views.

She succeeds ... without a doubt.

Theatre Guild Valdosta’s “Doubt: A Parable” continues 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29; 7:30 p.m., Feb. 2-4, The Dosta Playhouse, 122 N. Ashley St. More information: Call (229) 247-8243, or visit

The review is based on the Jan. 26 opening night show.

React to this story:


Trending Video

Recommended for you