The critical triumph of Sydney’s theatre year sees The Fantastic Francis Hardy working his magic, curing the sick and giving strength to the weak. His powers are real. Or so he says, and sometimes believes. He can tell you of nights when miracles were conjured as fast as he could place his touch. But that was long ago and his powers are far less reliable these days. More of a mystery now is why his embittered wife and hapless manager still put such faith in him after all that’s happened.
With its mythic resonance and drama of Gaelic folklore, Faith Healer is considered to be Irish playwright Brian Friel’s masterpiece, where characters take turns wrestling with the past, proving that memory can be as unreliable, and as contradictory, as faith. This production, directed by Judy Davis, stars Paul Blackwell (God of Carnage) as the crass showman-cum-manager Teddy, Alison Whyte (Summer of the Seventeenth Doll) as the faithful yet disillusioned wife Grace, and Colin Friels (Skylight) as the melancholic, charismatic Francis Hardy.
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Friel deserves his reputation as one of the greatest, Irish playwrights and this production of Faith Healer, with its accomplished direction and performances, does justice to his legacy.
Theatre this fine, this pulsing and piteous, is worth seeing in anyone’s language.
These are masters at work. The most vital, nuanced and powerful performances I’ve seen in Sydney this year.
A near flawless production. Truly a masterpiece.
Friels’ magnificent performance as Frank is full of the energy and charisma.