Discerning theater-goers who truly appreciate an evening of great drama need tickets to this superb tour-de-force by one of Ireland's most critically-acclaimed playwrights, Brian Friel. The mesmerizing story of a charismatic traveling faith-healer who may be a saint or a charlatan -- or a little of both, this unusual play has been called a rare work of art: complex, intensely thought-provoking, but most of all deeply moving.
When the work first premiered (in a 1979 production starring James Mason) audiences seemed somewhat confused by its unconventional structure: the actors never appear together on stage; instead each in turn delivers a monologue. Though many critics immediately recognized its importance, Faith Healer was not, initially a commercial success. It has taken a brilliant revival, with a truly spectacular cast, to reveal this play for what it is: a modern masterpiece.
Now showing at the Booth Theater in New York, director Jonathan Kent's powerful interpretation features three extraordinary performers: Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List, The English Patient), Cherry Jones (The Perfect Storm, Erin Brockovich,) and Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars) -- thus giving audiences what one critic called a "unique opportunity to see three of our finest actors on one stage." But Faith Healer is far more than a mere vehicle to showcase star talent. Most intriguing to audiences today is the drama itself, a work of unflinching honesty and searing insights into the complexities of human relationships.
Each of the characters is fascinating. Frank Hardy, the faith-healer, (Fiennes) while both self-absorbed and difficult, is genuinely awed by his strange ability to cure the sick by the laying-on of hands, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. His long-suffering wife Grace (Jones) obviously adores him, even as he exasperates her. Rounding out the trio is Teddy, Hardy's "manager" (McDiarmid) who offers his own sardonic analysis of their "act" -- which combines cheap side-show spectacle with a profoundly religious experience, and raises fascinating questions about faith, love, and conflicting perceptions of what is real.
Get Faith Healer tickets and see what one critic called "little short of magical." Fiennes is "stunning," Jones "shattering," and McDiarmid "quite magnificent." Watching the three together is a fantastic theatrical experience, one you can tell your grandchildren about!
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