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Ogdensburg Command Performances presents ‘Doubt’

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OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg Command Performances’ latest visiting production aims to make a statement on the Catholic church’s sex-abuse scandals and its accusers.

“Doubt” will be presented at 7:45 p.m. March 31 at Ogdensburg Free Academy Auditorium.

The one-act play focuses on two characters, Father Flynn (Brendan Shanahan) and Sister Aloysius (Suzy Hunt), who teach at a fictitious Catholic school in the Bronx in 1964.

“Father Flynn represents the winds of change in the Catholic church and society at the time, while Sister Aloysius represents old society and old ways,” Mr. Shanahan said in a recent interview.

The two characters clash when Sister Aloysius, jealous of Father Flynn’s youth and popularity with students, begins inquiring as to whether he committed sexual misconduct with middle school student Donald Muller.

The story, while set in the 1960s, echoes modern themes, specifically the priest sex abuse scandals. Director Greg Johnson believes that is playwright John Patrick Shanley’s intention. Mr. Johnson said Mr. Shanley questions society’s tendency to persecute solely on accusation.

“It challenges the audience to take a step back from generalities and mob mentality and makes you think about this particular priest, this particular nun and this particular story,” Mr. Johnson said.

At the very least, the play makes for thought-provoking conversation.

“The most exciting thing about the play is, after the curtain goes down, after the applause dies down, you hear this explosion of conversation,” said Mr. Shanahan. “It’s a brilliant play. You don’t know who is telling the truth.”

Mr. Johnson agreed.

“We say if you’re not talking about this play on the ride home, then we haven’t been successful,” he said.

After the play, the troupe will immediately return on stage for “talk backs,” where audience members may debate their take on the events and ask questions. The talks are a great way to open the topic of multiple themes the play addresses. But, of course, everyone has one burning question on their mind.

“Everyone always asks, ‘Who is really telling the truth?’ But, even after the play, true to their characters, Brendan and Suzy are still very firm in their stances,” said Sarina A. Hart, who plays Mrs. Muller, Donald’s mother.

Tickets for “Doubt” range from $16 to $35. To reserve, call Ogdensburg Command Performances at 393-2625 or visit www.ogdensburgk12.org.

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