In the Playing of a Certain Sister, Cherry Jones Says There's No Doubt About It

Tony Awards   In the Playing of a Certain Sister, Cherry Jones Says There's No Doubt About It
 
Since there is little in the script of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt to indicate that righteous Sister Aloysius has any uncertainty about the guilt of a priest in her parochial school, Tony Award-nominated actress Cherry Jones attacks the role knowing sister is correct.
Cherry Jones in Doubt
Cherry Jones in Doubt Photo by Joan Marcus

Of creating the role Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, and now dipping deeper into the play in its Broadway run at the Walter Kerr Theatre, Jones told Playbill.com that she had to make a choice about the guilt of accused abuser Father Flynn (played by Tony nominee Brían F. O'Byrne): He's absolutely guilty of the abuse of which she accuses him, and that's how Jones must approach it. "Absolutely, or she wouldn't put herself or him through what they go through," Jones said.

The script doesn't indicate that she has doubt until the final scene.

"And even then it's ambiguous as to what that means, and to what her doubt is about," Jones said. "People can go out arguing what the final line of the play means. People are absolutely certain they know what it means. I'm always tickled to hear what that might be. Even that changes."

Is there wiggle room to play it differently each night, with the actress indicating a somewhat less sure Sister Aloysius?

"Brían can play around with it a little more than I," Jones said. "He can become a little more sinister or angelic, depending on how he feels the crowd is going. I have to be right-straight-down-the-middle. We're finding just in the last two weeks, there's a greater power to what we're doing. We've finally exercised our muscles in the Walter Kerr to the point now that we are really finessing it. That doesn't mean we're making it broader. If anything we're cutting time, we're not adding time. It's something we're very aware of: That's the first thing we do when we come off stage each night, we ask the running time, because we know we have to keep it very, very taut."

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