(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 8/26.)
No matter how many times you see Faith Healer , Brian Friel’s astonishing monologue play can still subtly contradict your memory.
The vividly-recalled lines don’t fall quite where you expect them; plot details about the travelling faith healer, his wife and their manager drift to the surface as though only recently dislodged. Since it first began, in 1979, Faith Healer’s narrative puzzle, its rich humour and tragic lilt, seem capable of taking on new shapes.
Such is the triumph of this memory play, whose story is revealed, revised and contested by the speakers, and ultimately pieced together in the imagination of the audience. As the haunted and charismatic huckster Francis weaves his way home to Ballybeg, the play traces the thin line between miracles and confidence tricks, a reflection of the alchemy of performance itself – where “nine times out of ten, nothing happened”.