Faith Healer

This dark play gives us a well thought out reminder that the truth is often subjective and the accuracy of events can often depend on whose mouth it is coming from.

This revival of Brian Friel's play shines a light on its three characters who all tell us a series of events from their perspective. The stories are the same, mostly. Split over four monologues, there is huge room for interpretation here and each actor brings a different feeling to their personal soliloquy while remaining true to the original writing and meaning of the piece.

We open on Frank, the 'Faith Healer'.  He begins telling us of his 'powers', he inexplicably is able to heal people from their ailments. He relishes in sharing his stories of success, including healing 10 people in a church in rural Wales. But how accurate is this story? How much can we trust his memories of his past?

Declan Conlon is entrancing in this role, bringing a domineering aura to the stage, making the character believable and yet mystical at the same time.

We then meet Grace, the forlorn wife of Frank who shocks us with her entirely different recollection of the events we have previously heard from Frank. Her reality is starkly different to Frank's. She is a woman struggling with her mental health, mostly due to her husband’s actions and traumatic events she has been through. Justine Mitchell is outstanding here, moving the audience emotionally with her performance. She has tapped into the inner turmoil of the character and shares this with the audience in an authentic manner. Grace is bitter with the world and angry at her husband, and given what she shares with us. Her feelings are justified.

We learn of a third in this relationship, entertainment manager Teddy, who initially brings some light hearted humour to the piece, regaling his showbiz stories of managing a pipe playing whippet. Nick Holder perfectly portrays this role, with his melodramatic storytelling in a cockney accent. Teddy's sequence of events is closer to Grace's than Franks but there are still some parts that don't quite line up.

Rachel O'Riordan has beautifully directed this piece, it's been stripped back and shows you don't need big flashy sets or costumes when the words hold all the impact required. It has all the intensity and emotion at the forefront.

This play makes for an interesting evening, the audience are drawn deeper and deeper into this world where although some truths can be confirmed, other questions are left unanswered.

This show was reviewed on the 26th March 2024 at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre where the show runs until the 13th April 2024.  Tickets available here: Faith Healer - Lyric Hammersmith

Review written by Rosie Browne

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Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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