Archive for July 2013

“Doubt” presented by Theatre9/12

Can we ever be completely sure? Is there always the possibility that there are circumstances or situations about which we are ignorant? Sister Aloysius has no doubt that the parish priest is molesting a new student in the eighth grade class of the school in which she’s the Principal.

John Patrick Shanley’s play explores the assumptions, the evidence, the implications, the emotions, and the fallout. Under the elegant direction of Charles Waxberg, the Theatre 9/12 cast gives the well-worn play a stunning interpretation. Even if you’ve seen it on stage before or seen the movie, there’s such power in this presentation that you’ll be on the edge of your seats.

Photo by Michael Brunk /

Sister Aloysius is a moral woman who ferociously protects and molds her students. But she’s a woman in a male dominated subculture, a woman in a situation of subservience to all the men of her religion. How can she remove this monstrous man from the parish and her school . . . or should she? Can she be sure she’s right?

Michael Oaks as Father Flynn, speaking in a remarkably apt Irish/Bronx dialect, is that “good fellow” cleric whose sermons suit his parishioners and whose warmth and camaraderie with the boys who play sports encourages as it trains them. Therese Diekhans as stern Sister Aloysius devotes her entire being to the welfare and nurturing of her students, but she does it by setting strict rules, making demands on them, molding them for productive and satisfying maturity. These two actors are venomous as they battle each other.

Caught in the middle is the naive Sister James, played with innocence yet passion by Kate Alden. Rachel D. Pate as the mother of the boy at risk mixes dignity with determination as she tries to save her son. She has no doubt about it. You, on the other hand, will probably leave the theatre with much doubt. But not about the excellence of this production.

Through Aug. 4 at Trinity Parish Hall, 609 8th Ave., Seattle; (206 332-7908 or

“Illyria,” Peter Mills musical version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Taproot Theatre


My most favorite Shakespearian comedy turned into yet another musical? Really? Yes, really! And this one so good I could hardly believe it. Cheers for Peter Mills who wrote book, music, and lyrics and who adapted the play with Cara Reichel. And a standing ovation for Karen Lund director of Taproot’s production.

You know the story—separated shipwrecked twins, Viola and Sebastian, both find a way to survive. Viola dresses as her brother so she can serve Count Orsino and of course falls in love with him. But he’s in love with Olivia who rejects love because she’s in mourning. Viola is sent to woo Olivia for Orsino. But Olivia falls in love with the masquerading Viola. Meanwhile the competent and guileful maid Maria, the pompous steward Malvolio, a portly and conniving uncle Sir Toby Belch, and his friend the foolish Sir Andrew add complications to Olivia’s life.

Mayhem and madness prevail as sly sexual turnarounds, trickery and comeuppances take the audience on a wild and delightful adventure. Feste, the clown-guide-provocateur played with remarkably diverse skills by Don Darryl Rivera abets all this nonsense . Finally the real Sebastian shows up; sexual identities are clarified, and love prevails for all but Malvolio and Sir Andrew.

The singing voices of the actors blend beautifully and the acting is superb throughout. Every move and gesture, every facial expression has been carefully choreographed. The music under the direction of Edd Key is spritely. And the words, oh the words! So clever with their unexpected rhymes and crafty meanings.

This is a treat for young and old. One caveat, try to sit downstairs. Someone seated in the balcony told me that he couldn’t catch all the words. Those words are too good to miss.

Through August 10 at Taproot Theatre, 204 North 85 St., Seattle; (206 781-9707 or

Endangered Species Project

The best theatre deal in town is still offered by Endangered Species Project. In case you aren’t already a fan, let me tell you what a treasure it is.

Once a month, the company offers staged readings of terrific plays that are never or rarely produced these days, mostly for reasons of cost. When you don’t have elaborate sets and costumes, when you just have the words and the actors, the production costs are low, but the experience can be wondrous.

Some of Seattle’s most esteemed actors participate. Through voice and gesture they transport their audiences. This month R. Hamilton Wright played the title role in “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker” by Liam O’Brien and directed here by Richard Ziman. Seventeen actors, including seven children were required for this play that first opened in 1953 with Burgess Meredith in the title role. Clifton Webb played it in the movie version. It’s charming. It’s uproariously funny. And the ESP production was joyous.

Currently all their productions take place at North Seattle Community College’s Theatre. There’s a loyal following for these free productions (donations are requested). In July there were more audience member than there were seats. So get there early. Check the web site for dates and start times.

“Picnic” by William Inge, produced by ReAct Theatre

See my review in The Seattle Times.