Seeing as how I didn’t bring my iBook to Smalltown, U.S.A. (and good for me!), I wasn’t able to post the usual Friday-morning teaser for my Wall Street Journal column. This one was a doozy: I wrote about four different shows, two good and two bad.
Topping the list was Doubt:
The best new play of the season is about a Roman Catholic priest suspected of molesting a young boy. Don’t roll your eyes: I couldn’t believe it, either. Not only does the priestly sex scandal offer endless opportunities for tendentious pontification of one sort or another, but John Patrick Shanley, best known for his screenplay for “Moonstruck,” is a gifted but uneven playwright whose previous work has never rung my bell. Nevertheless, “Doubt,” which opened Tuesday at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stage I, is that rarity of rarities, an issue-driven play that is unpreachy, thought-provoking, and so full of high drama that the audience with which I saw it gasped out loud a half-dozen times at its startling twists and turns. It’s this year’s “Frozen,” minus the plagiarism.
Actually, it’s not quite right to say that “Doubt” is unpreachy, since it starts with a sermon in which Father Flynn (Br