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Theatre Review: Faith Healer ****

Joy Watters reviews 'a wonderful piece of storytelling'.

Irish writer Brian Friel’s Faith Healer is a wonderful piece of storytelling that pulls an audience into its very heart with its moving accounts of the ties that bind and the forces that destroy relationships.

Director Elizabeth Newman has assembled a trio of actors all perfectly attuned to their roles in her beautifully judged production.

Written forty years ago, the piece has lost none of its power over the decades, driven by its unusual form, four monologues delivered by three characters. In their solo speeches, they fix the audience in the eye then the expressions change as they reflect on their lives, running the gamut of emotions and utterly magnetizing the audience.

At the centre is the fantastic Francis Hardy, the Faith Healer of the title, flanked by his companions, wife Grace and manager Teddy, each giving conflicting recollections of their time together.

Frank (George Costigan) delivers the first and last of the monologues, charting the ups and downs of his wanderings round the country.

Costigan nails the role showing Frank’s doubts about his powers set against his successes. Sometimes the showman telling hilarious anecdotes, at others wistfully reflecting and then cruel ultimately vulnerable, tired and drunken, fatally driven to his Irish home.

Kirsty Stuart as Grace poignantly recalls her devotion to Frank while tragically trapped in a life full of sorrows.

Cockney Teddy, a man with a touch of vaudeville about him, is tellingly realised in Richard Standing’s performance which weaves the humour of the character with the question of what loyalty to Frank has cost him.

Runs at Pitlochry Festival Theatre until November 3 then touring in partnership with Eden Court, Inverness: Tue 5 Nov—Carnegie Hall, Clashmore, Dornoch, Wed 6 Nov—Orkney Theatre Arts, Kirkwall Grammar School, Fri 8 Nov—Macphail Centre, Ullapool, Sat 9 Nov—Strathearn Artspace, Crieff, Mon 11 Nov—Aros Centre, Sky, Thu 14-Sat 16 Nov—Eden Court, Inverness.

Tags: theatre

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