London Classic Theatre
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
Sept 12-16, 2023; 2 hrs
This London Classic Theatre production of Brian Friel’s classic drama Faith Healer is admirably performed by the close-knit trio of actors at its heart.
The story concerns the experience of Frank Hardy, who has the reputation of being able to heal by faith alone.
He has had some unexplained success, on one occasion healing 10 people in a small Welsh village. But his gift remains mysterious - and becomes increasingly capricious. As the play progresses, the tensions between Frank, his manager and his wife gradually unfold, and increasingly the stress of performing miracles on demand leads him to the bottle.
As the play consists of four monologues, it is an intense experience that requires serious concentration from its audience. Props and staging are minimal and there is little or no interaction between the players, so the challenge to retain audience attention is prodigious.
Paul Carroll as Frank and Gina Costigan as Grace use plenty of inflection and movement to deliver their pieces, but for me the standout performer is Jonathan Ashley as Teddy who is animated and engages the audience throughout.
Friel’s play is now considered a masterpiece, one of the top 100 British plays of the 20th Century. It certainly offers plenty of questions. Are miracles possible? What happens when we invest trust in people who don't live up to our expectations? How do we discern the truth when others interpret things differently? What is it like to live with the benediction and curse of the actor's gift?
As someone whose attention has been known to wander, this was a slightly difficult watch for me, but the performances are excellent and the three performers communicate the narrative and the questions behind it well. It's well worth the trip to Theatr Clwyd for that reason alone.
Info and tickets here