THE BASICS: Faith Healer runs Friday, January 5, 2024 through Sunday, January 28, 2024 at the Irish Classical Theatre, 625 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14203. Curtain times are 7:30pm for Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 3pm Saturday Matinees; and 2pm Sundays.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased online at www.irishclassical.com, by phone at 716-853-4282 or in person at the ICTC Box Office. See Box Office hours on ICTC’s website.
Student: $20; Purchase online or through Box Office.
Veteran: $25; Purchase online with code THANKS or through Box Office.
Industry: $20; Purchase through Box Office, or join our Industry List for online access.
Young Professionals: $35; Purchase online or through Box Office. Valid only for our Young Professionals Night. Includes one complimentary drink at the bar.
NY Public Employee Federation: $35; Purchase through Box Office.
Buffalo Public Library VIP Program: $35; Purchase through Box Office.
Arts Access Pass: $0; Purchase through Box Office. Passholders must provide Arts Access Member ID.
Dramatists Guild: $20
Rush: $25, 20 minutes before performance time, if available.
THUMBNAIL SKETCH: Faith Healer tells the story of Francis Hardy, a preacher who travels around the British Isles offering cures and redemption to those who are sick and suffering. Director Josephine Hogan says: “Faith Healer is a haunting memory play consisting of four intriguing monologues about art, shifting perspectives, love, life, and death. All three characters have their own perception of reality, shaped from disturbing shared experiences. This powerful stage mystery leaves the audience to make their own decision as to who is telling the truth in these three refracted versions.”
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 30 minutes (includes intermission)
THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION:
Faith Healer is a drama by Brian Friel who is widely regarded as being Ireland’s leading modern playwright. It was first produced in 1979 and has been revived many times since then. The play is considered a masterpiece and it is on the Royal National Theatre’s list of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century.
Josephine Hogan’s direction is expertly imperceptible with very natural movement. I appreciated that Ms. Hogan is always cognizant of the challenges of the theatre in the round.
Paul Todaro has the title role of Frank, the faith healer whose powers are unpredictable. Mr. Todaro’s performance is compelling and he has an impressive way with the play’s many poetic passages. After a while, however, it becomes difficult to watch a character who is so consistently hopeless, anguished, and weary. And even though the story is absorbing, my attention drifted by the 4th monologue. Perhaps, the production would have benefited if Mr. Todaro’s cadence had shown more variation.
The second monologue is performed by Grace, Frank’s codependent wife, played by Margaret Massman. Here we get a different spin on Frank’s story. Poor Grace is in trauma after 20 years of marriage to a narcissist. This is a lively monologue and Ms. Massman’s delivery is conversational and heartfelt.
Vincent O’Neill plays Frank’s long suffering stage manager. Mr. O’Neill nails both the humor and the pathos – providing a delightful change of pace. Watching him is sublime – he is a world class actor, totally at home, and in a role that fits him like a glove.
The production values are stark but appropriate, and the subtle lighting by Jayson Clark and somber sound design by Tom Maker added much to the proceedings.
This is a solid production of an important play. The cast is strong and the performance by Vincent O’Neill is exquisite.
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!