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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Melbourne Theatre Company's " Doubt"

This afternoon we had the unexpected pleasure of a performance of "Doubt" - the latest in the current MTC season.  My partner tells me this play is the first of a trilogy dealing with the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States.

Doubt takes place in the USA in 1964 and features a young parish priest and two nuns working in a school attached to the parish. The two nuns are a contrast - the older is the head of the nuns, worldly wise, having a previous married life before entering the convent - and the younger, idealistic, somewhat naive and hopeful.

The two nuns- especially the superior - become suspicious of a relationship the priest has with a young, negro alter boy.  But there is doubt all round.  Is there really a problem? is it all in the imagination of the older woman. There is enough to suggest not.

She challenges the priest and he tries every trick in the "male authority figure in the church" book to deflect her.

The mother of the young boy seems to accept that it might be happening but is more concerned that her son should graduate and get to a good high school and college.  In some wonderful tension filed scenes,  older nun confronts the priest and calls his bluff.  After seemingly backing down,  he phones his bishop. For what? To confess? To consult with a knowing superior?

But he is transferred to another parish and effectively given a promotion - one that puts him in direct control of children.

This play rings with the sad tale that has played out in real life in the Catholic Church in the US where abusing priests were protected and moved around.  Later the real horror of the  cover up was to cause great pain to the Church in the US and to the victims of these men.

I look forward to the next play in the trilogy but I think I know where it is headed.

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