Faith Healer

“It's the casts commitment to their skill that truly stands out”.

Frank Hardy has the gift of healing. Sick, injured, and desperate people seek his incredible power to give them a cure and a chance of a better life. Frank Hardy, however, is also a conman. Written by Brian Friel, there are four monologues to interweave the stories of Frank Hardy, his wife, Grace, and manager Teddy, as they travel to remote corners of Scotland and Wales to put on their show during the 1950s and 1960s. 

The show starts off incredibly strong with Frank Hardy (Paul Carroll) giving us his monologue, breaking the fourth wall to interact with the audience. We are instantly drawn in by his charisma, making it clear that he is an incredible showman. The way he tells his version of events is completely enticing so you feel compelled to believe in his truth. Carroll completely takes control of the stage in which you feel glued to his every move, clinging onto his every word. It is evident that he has mastered his skill, cleverly changing his accents to tell his story, and using physical characterisations that contrast his charismatic and egotistical showman demeanour with his more erratic and unsure ability to believe in his powers to heal.

We then move onto Grace's (Gina Costigan) monologue, in which we see a more emotional and powerful performance. Grace has a completely different version of events in which the audience are encouraged to second guess Frank and his motives. Gina gives an incredibly sorrowful performance, in which the audience begins to doubt Frank and his intentions. We learn more about Frank's personal life through this monologue and the sadness that the couple endures. It is truly heart-breaking to see how much Grace still loves Frank after all the heartbreak in her life and Gina perfectly captures this in her performance.

After the interval, we are given Teddy's (Jonathan Ashley) events of the story. This again starts off incredibly strong and it feels like there is going to be a chance of redemption for the play. Jonathan incorporates a lot of humour into his performance that truly brings some life and joy, which is absolutely needed. He perfectly encapsulates the role of a cockney manager, who's not afraid to tell a little white lie to get himself some business.

The interwoven use of stories is interesting as it demonstrates the complete way in which stories can be altered due to human perception. However, after a while, it is something that begins to lose my interest in the performance as we are hearing a similar story for the third time. Whilst I appreciated the incredible performances of all monologues, there was not enough happening on stage to completely captivate me. The staging is stagnant throughout and apart from an occasional change within the lighting, there was no other stagecraft to keep me engaged which led to me losing interest and missing some of the storyline. 

I completely understand the intentions of monologue work and I feel that there are ways in which monologue work can be incredibly impactful. I just feel that this production could use a little more to keep an audience's attention. This piece of writing tells an intriguing and thought-provoking story, but just feels a little lacklustre. Overall, it is the cast's commitment to their roles that truly shines. 

This show was reviewed at Theatr Clwyd.  Faith Healer runs there until the 16th September 2023.  Tickets available here: Faith Healer | Theatr Clwyd

Full tour details here: Faith Healer « London Classic Theatre

Review written by Vicky Humphreys


Photo credit: Sheila Burnett

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