Up Stage Napa Valley is performing a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Doubt: A Parable” by John Patrick Shanley. The play is opening on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at the St. Helena Presbyterian Church on Spring Street and then moving to the Grace Episcopal Church on Nov. 1.

The Up Stage Napa Valley Production is directed by Shari Renault, with actors Rob Barlow, Elaine Jennings, Danielle Devitt, and Carlet Langford.

There are four characters in the play: Father Brendan Flynn (Barlow) is a personable and articulate priest in his late 30s; Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Jennings), is an older conservative and traditional principal of the church’s school; Sister James (Devitt), is the younger, enthusiastic but inexperienced nun; and Mrs. Muller (Langford) is a parishioner whose son attends the school.

The conflict of the play arises with Sister Aloysius’ suspicion that Flynn is having an illicit relationship with Miller’s 12-year-old son. The question is what one does with these sorts of suspicions.

Sister Aloysius confronts Flynn, but he denies the accusation. She then attempts to sow discord by repeating her accusations to the boy’s mother. Ultimately, Flynn threatens to remove Sister Aloysius from her position unless she stops repeating her accusations. She, in turn, tries to blackmail him.

Uncovering the “truth” behind the prejudice, unsubstantiated rumor, and innuendo becomes the enigma confronting the audience as each character reveals his or her personal flaws and inconsistencies. As each “knot” of innuendo and accusation tightens in their hostile relationships we struggle to determine who the true villain within the parable is.

“Doubt,” Flynn tells the audience in one of his sermons, “can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone.”

The Up Stage Napa Valley production of “Doubt” will open Oct. 18 in the St. Helena Presbyterian Church, 1428 Spring St. and run through Sunday, Oct. 29. Then the production will move to the Grace Episcopal Church, 1314 Spring St. and run from Nov. 1-5.

General admission is $25, with a student rate of $15 and a group rate (10 or more) of $20 per person. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com/event/3084386.


Tom Stockwell is currently a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and has been a working journalist for a variety of technical publications as well as a consultant for numerous wineries in the Napa Valley.