(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 6/29.)
Frank, Grace, Teddy: an itinerant Irish “faith healer”, his wife and the cockney old-time manager who attended them both, for years, on Frank’s hit-and-miss mission to heal the sick in out of the way, forlorn little towns across pre and post-war Wales and Scotland. A simple trinity of characters, and an old-fashioned proposition – we hear them talk to us in turn, one monologue after another. And yet what an exceptional, spellbinding night at the theatre the late Irish playwright Brian Friel bequeathed us with his 1979 masterpiece, its longevity re-confirmed by this flawless Donmar revival.
New York’s response to Faith Healer at its short-lived premiere was one of indifference, despite the fact that it starred James Mason as Frank Hardy. With this densely detailed series of confessionals, it’s undoubtedly the case that you need to concentrate, keep hold of piles of conversational loose-change and wait, patiently, as they’re accrue into a pot of dramatic gold.