REVIEW: Pitlochry Festival Theatre's Faith Healer closes its run at Eden Court, Inverness after tour across the Highlands bringing Brian Friel's classic script to life with George Costigan in the title role
Eden Court, Inverness
FROM the moment that George Costigan appeared out of the darkness clad in a musty old suit until the moment he disappeared back into it, the Eden Court couldn’t help but be swept up by the courage of Faith Healer’s conviction.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s production of the late playwright Brian Friel’s classic script had been touring the Highlands, following the path of its titular healer – the “Fabulous Francis Hardy” (as played by Costigan) – across the village halls of the north.
Unfurling in four unbroken monologues – two from Hardy bookending the production, and one each from his wife Grace and his manager Teddy – the script cleverly contradicts itself, allowing each monologue to present its own reality.
The two hours essentially peel back layers of Frank Hardy, as George Costigan’s excellent opening monologue – charming and played with just the right amount of “aw shucks” understatement to mark what may end up revealed to be a series of self-preserving– is deconstructed with varying degrees of brutality.
The performance of Kirsty Stuart as Grace Hardy is a harrowing delight, a woman on the edge of total collapse reckoning with her marriage and a life punctuated by horrendous traumas.
While Richard Standing’s performance as Teddy walks the line between charming and despairing, as a man reckoning with his own grief,
And that is Faith Healer’s dark beauty. For all its wonderful contradictions, for the way its characters’ testimonies weave through and around each other, where its real magic comes from is in how all three characters are reckoning with grief – and failing to heal in their own ways.
All these characters can hope for is a reckoning – and Faith Healer offers that at least, with all three actors bringing these characters’ despairs to life. KW