Magazine article Commonweal

Faith Healer

Magazine article Commonweal

Faith Healer

Article excerpt

Three good performances could be found in another Irish play recently when the People's Light and Theatre Company, one of the Philadelphia area's long-established professional companies, revived Brian Friel's 1979 play Faith Healer. Although Jarlath Conroy, Alda Cortese, and Tom Teti did well by the three characters who comprise the cast, it was the play that was most fascinating. It consists of four monologues, the first and the last by Frank, the titular faith healer. He is a difficult man, a drinker, an Irishman uncomfortable with his power which, as often as not, does not work but which he cannot give up. He travels through villages outside Ireland (the play begins and ends with a litany of place names), holding minuscule meetings in tiny halls, and he is accompanied (looked after) by his wife Grace, an Englishwoman who gave up her upper-class home to follow him, and by Teddy, a cockney showman who has given up dog acts and other such legitimate clients to serve as agent for Frank. The information on the characters that I give here should be taken with a soupcon of suspicion because the three first monologues contradict one another on large and small details, particularly on Grace's losing her child and on the last fatal evening when Frank returns to Ireland. What comes through is Grace's deep love for Frank although she pretends indifference to or anger at him most of the time, and Teddy's unspoken love for Grace and his devotion to Frank even as he insists that his connection with them is only a professional attachment. …

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