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Once in Doubt

Once in Doubt

ONCE IN DOUBT captures the self-destructive anguish of a dying romance – that point at which couples, out of anger humiliate themselves in order to hurt the other. Harry, an artist, creates a painting/collage on the fourth wall using blood (invisible) from his slashed wrist and the objects (also invisible) that surround him and his wife, Flo, in a tiny white “Skinner Box” room.  The collage is his legacy to his wife – his cynical, final statement about the absurdity of the human condition.  Their mutual dependency is a sore point between them; they resent it just as they resent any suggestion that they put some distance between them.  They resent it when they don’t flatter each other’s looks and when they do…


Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, 1990 (Los Angeles Theatre Center production) 

Five Dramalogue Awards, including a Dramalogue Award For Writing, 1990 (Los Angeles Theatre Center production)

Chosen Outstanding Play of 1992 by both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times (Remains Theater production)

Maddie Award for Best Play, 1999 (Odyssey Theatre Ensemble production)


Kim O’Kelley, Raymond J. Barry

“The bloodshed in ONCE IN DOUBT is imaginary. If it were simulated, it would be unwatchable; if it were real, it would be fatal. But just because it’s imaginary doesn’t mean it isn’t true. To an artist, imagination is reality; if the artist succeeds in reaching his audience, his imagined reality becomes theirs too.” [Read the full review-Albert Williams, Chicago Reader, July 9, 1992.

“Barry’s artistry is definite. Form and content are inseparable in ONCE IN DOUBT adding up to a statement that is coherent, evocative and richly entertaining. The short play is wonderfully full and despite its serious themes – delightfully funny. The dialogue is sharp and witty. The man’s mental journeys are full of powerful images and strong, elastic rhythms. The play suggests reality with deep thought and imagination.” -Eric Suben, Villager Downtown, New York City, November 27, 1984.

“Barry’s… ONCE IN DOUBT, an alternately harrowing and hilarious study of the obsessive relationship between an artist and his live-in lover…  This is a fabulous show – electrifying and thought-provoking.” -Albert Williams, Chicago Reader, August 7, 1992.

“The dueling dialogue, with its non-sequitor asides and conflicted characters crossing words in terminal non-communication, makes for absurdist comedy with inspired reverberations.” -Sylvie Drake, Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1989.

“ONCE IN DOUBT is quite an accomplishment. Barry’s play is a bizarre experience. It is very powerful theatrically.” -Carol Burbank, Philadelphia City Paper, July 21, 1989.

“Raymond J. Barry’s ONCE IN DOUBT at the Remains Theatre puts its three actors way out on a limb, which it constantly threatens to saw off. The play’s first half is a ferocious – and hilarious – battle of the sexes…” -Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune, June 30, 1992.

“New York stage actor Raymond J. Barry, who both wrote this seriocomic collage of love and hate, has fashioned an insidious drama of a human relationship that sticks like blood on a white canvas.” -Ray Loynd, Los Angeles Times, January 1989.

Amy Morton
Amy Morton

“Unusually sophisticated… so disturbing I had to avert my eyes and cover my ears.” –Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times, July 5, 1992.

“There are times during ONCE IN DOUBT when you just have to smile. Rarely does a playwright – in this case, Raymond J. Barry – capture exactly how comically difficult, how nearly impossible, it is for two people to love one another. It’s rarer still for a playwright to capture that frustration while remaining keenly aware of how much we need love.” -Scott Collins, Southtown Economist, Chicago, June 29, 1992.

“The experimentalism is the playwright’s scraping away of all the polite conversation and rational self-deceptions. He shows us bloody bone and marrow being exercised in the pursuit of happiness.” -Jimmy Fowler, Dallas Observer, October  7, 1998.

ONCE IN DOUBT is a savagely funny, unsettling work, and is recommended for its intelligent exploration of personal and artistic passions and the risks associated with them.” -Greg Aaron, University City Review, Philadelphia, July 1989.

“ONCE IN DOUBT” is a vivid, vibrant roller-coaster of a play.” -Daily Variety, November 14, 1989, Los Angeles.

“ONCE IN DOUBT is a gem of a play that is its own reason for being.” -Madeleine Shaner, Back Stage West Dramalogue, May 27, 1999, Los Angeles.

“If a full-bodied play can be considered a symphony, then Raymond J. Barry’s ONCE IN DOUBT at the Los Angeles Theater Center is a very bitter suite, a deadly divertimento, jaunty Jacques Ibert with karate chops, a stinging jazz riff-the theatrical equivalent of a heavy metal power chord.” -John C. Mohoney, Downtown News, Los Angeles, November 20, 1989.

“People’s Light and Theater’s premiere of ONCE IN DOUBT is an explosive, shocking comedy-drama which leaves the audience in almost breathless anticipation.” -Michael Byrne, Main Line Times, Philadelphia, July 20, 1989.

“Its language is as arch as Pinter, as bewildering as Ionesco, and (at times) as visceral as Mamet.” -Elizabeth A. Finkler, Welcomat – After Dark, Philadelphia, July 12, 1989.

William Peterson, Amy Morton, Jerry Becker

“I went to see ONCE IN DOUBT… and it was the best thing I had seen. And what struck me was the total experience of it – that you got hit with this wave of emotional words, which kept coming in a barrage, and then it would stop on a dime, and it was very precise. You could see the work and it was beautiful, and it’s something that was kind of shocking to see.” -Interview with Jack Black, Back Stage West, February 22, 1996.

“I read a review of the play, ONCE IN DOUBT that was being performed at the Los Angeles Theater Center. I was blown away by it…” -William Petersen of CSI in an interview for Back Stage West; February 17, 1994.


Once In Doubt  was first performed as a one act at La Mama ETC, New York City, New York; Ellen Stewart, Artistic Director, November 1984.  The part of Mr. Wagner had not been written:

HARRY    Raymond J. Barry
FLO    Jean Reynolds

DIRECTOR    David Saint
SET DESIGN    Raymond J. Barry
MUSIC    Ellen Maddow & Harry Mann

Once In Doubt was performed at the Cast Theatre, Los Angeles, California, Ted Schmidt, Artistic Director, January thru April 1989:

HARRY    Raymond J. Barry
FLO    Kim O’Kelley

DIRECTOR    David Saint
LIGHTING    Erika Bradberry
SET DESIGN    Raymond J. Barry/David Saint

Once In Doubt was given a production at The Peoples Light and Theatre Company Danny Fruchter, Artistic Director, June/July, 1989:

HARRY    Raymond J. Barry
FLO    Kim O’Kelley
MR. WAGNER    John Nesci

DIRECTOR    David Saint
DESIGN    Raymond J. Barry & David Saint
LIGHTING    F. Pyne Jr.

Once In Doubt was given its first completed production at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Bill Bushnell and Diane White, Artistic Directors, November 1989 – January 1990:

HARRY    Raymond J. Barry
FLO    Kim O’Kelley
MR. WAGNER    Howard Schechter

DIRECTOR    David Saint
DESIGN    Raymond J. Barry & David Saint
LIGHTING/SOUND    Douglas Smith/Jon Gottlieb

Once In Doubt was performed at the Remains Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, Artistic Director, Larry Sloan, July-August 1992:

HARRY    William Petersen
FLO    Amy Morton
MR. WAGNER    Gerry Becker

COSTUMES    Laura Cunningham
SOUND    Christian Petersen

Once In Doubt was performed at the New Theatre Company in Dallas, Texas, October-November 1998:

HARRY    Jim Jorgensen
FLO    Charlotte Akin
MR. WAGNER    Carl Savering

DIRECTOR    T. A. Taylor

Once In Doubt was performed at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in Los Angeles, California, Artistic Director, Ron Sossi, June-July 1999:

HARRY    Raymond J. Barry
FLO    Kim O’Kelley
MR. WAGNER    Biff Yeager

DIRECTOR    Bernard White
DESIGN    Markus Maurette

College and Workshop Productions:

1993, University of South Dakota,, Student Production.
1990, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, Student Production.
1983, New Paltz State Teacher’s College, Workshop Production.
1983, Open Eye Theatre, New York City, Workshop Production