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Does Spotlighters prove its case beyond 'Doubt'?

Mike Giuliano

5:00 PM EDT, May 26, 2011

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It’s easy to understand why John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt” has been produced so often on local stages, including the current production at the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre.

This 2004 drama, which won both the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize, is a skillfully crafted examination of an ambiguous situation in which a nun who is a school principal in 1964 accuses the parish priest of having an inappropriate relationship with a troubled student.

Shanley allows for the possibility that the good-natured priest may have crossed an ethical boundary, but the playwright also allows for the possibility that the nun’s severely old-school personality may have prompted her to be certain about something of which she has no proof.

In any event, audience members are left to make up their own minds. Indeed, your opinion about the central issues can be affected by the performances and overall mood established by any given production of “Doubt.”

Although the Spotlighters production suffers from two misguided central performances — Michael Leicht is too immediately aggressive with his line readings as the priest and Sherrionne Brown needs to be more severe as the nun — the play’s thematic substance still comes across here.

Also, there are expertly handled supporting performances by Karina Ferry as a naive young nun and Nicole Mullins as the mother of the troubled student.

“Doubt” continues through June 12 at the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, at 817 St. Paul Street in Baltimore. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 general, $18 for senior citizens and $16 for students. Call 410-752-1225 or go to www.spotlighters.org.