Brian Friel’s enduring work of art, Faith Healer, is an extraordinary creation presented in four beautifully sculpted monologues. Under the direction of Judy Davis, the transcendent, intricate drama will open in Melbourne on Thursday 9 March at Southbank Theatre, The Sumner.
In this Belvoir production, Colin Friels (Skylight) takes to the stage as the enigmatic faith healer, Francis Hardy – for whom his gift is both a blessing and a curse – alongside Alison Whyte (Summer of the Seventeenth Doll) as the loyal but damaged Grace and Paul Blackwell (Deadline Gallipoli) as his manager, Teddy.
Increasingly fascinating as the story progresses, Francis, Grace and Teddy take turns wrestling with the past, showing that memory can be as unreliable, and as contradictory, as faith.
From church hall to church hall, from one remote and dying village to the next, Francis Hardy, faith healer, works his magic, curing the sick and the lame, giving strength to the weak. He can tell you of nights when miracles were conjured as fast as he could place his touch, but his powers have never been reliable. More of a mystery is why Grace and Teddy stay with him.
Director Judy Davis said, ‘To quote Brian Friel himself, “Memory is about what has happened in the past. It’s also about what might have happened but never did.” Faith Healer grapples with this notion of truth and falsity, and presents us with the gift of theatre in its essence – exceptional language that comes alive through carefully crafted characters.’
Judy Davis’ previous directorial credits include The School for Scandal, Barrymore and Victory for Sydney Theatre Company. As an actor, Judy first came to attention for her role as the fiery Sybylla Melvyn in the 1979 film My Brilliant Career, for which she won two BAFTA Awards. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in A Passage to India and again for her role in Husbands and Wives. She is a three-time Emmy Award-winner for her roles in Serving in Silence, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows and The Starter Wife. The many other credits across her significant career include her AACTA Award-winning performances in The Dressmaker, The Eye of the Storm, Children of the Revolution, On My Own, High Tide, Kangaroo, Winter of Our Dreams and Hoodwink.
The late Brian Friel was a master Irish dramatist. Described by The Guardian as a ‘writer acclaimed for the clarity, economy and intensity of his language and his probing of public and private anxieties’, Brian Friel had his first big success with Philadelphia, Here I Come!. Among his collection of notable works are the plays Translations, Aristocrats, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Freedom of the City, Molly Sweeney, and, of course, Faith Healer, which many believe to be his greatest play.
Cast Paul Blackwell, Colin Friels, Alison Whyte
Director Judy Davis
Set Designer Brian Thomson
Costume Designer Tess Schofield
Lighting Designer Verity Hampson
Composer & Sound Designer Paul Charlier
‘A near flawless production. Truly a masterpiece.’ The Guardian
‘Friels’ magnificent performance as Frank is full of the energy and charisma.’ The Australian
‘Mesmerizing. This will go down as one of those nights when you feel that theatre has laid its hands on you.’ Sydney Morning Herald
4 March – 8 April
Thursday 9 March, 8pm
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner
On sale now
03 8688 0800