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Moved from Manhattan Theatre Club to the higher, broader, and pricier reaches of a Broadway house, John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt is, if anything, more impressive than before. The fairness with which Shanley plays his taut, 90-minute suspense game seems to have strengthened: A second visit reveals an infinitude of giveaway details swimming underneath its masklike refusal to take sides as an obstinately suspicious old nun (Cherry Jones) in charge of a parochial school tries to entrap a priest (Brían F. O’Byrne) whom she suspects of being a child molester. At the end, the situation’s resolved but nothing is settled; the audience leaves unsettled, in the healthiest creative sense.
The acting, under Doug Hughes’s direction, has increased its size without damaging either its clarity or its rocklike rootedness in the characters’ center. O’Byrne in particular now pours a richness of feeling into what was earlier only a strong stance. Adriane Lenox, as the mother of a troubled student, and Heather Goldenhersh, as a teaching nun in perplexity, both come off brighter and fuller than before. As for Cherry Jones, the number of actresses who share her ability to convey heartfelt, passionate sunniness under the character’s cold, grudging absolutism must surely be less than five.