Theatrical: ‘Faith Healer’ at the Abbey

I collected the credit from the Abbey Theatre for the cancelled 2020 production of ‘Faith Healer’. Wanting to support the arts, in my own miniscule way I decided not to claim a refund, but took credit instead. By the time the production was re-announced, there wasn’t a red cent left in my account, having been consumed on other shows in the interim. My plan was to see the show again. Although with a seven week December and January run, I was in no rush. On Thursday this week during a lull at work, I bought a ticket for the first preview show the following night, on Friday 3rd December.

Then yesterday came the government announcement, that from Tuesday 7th December live events are to be subject to renewed restrictions of a maximum of 50% capacity until January 9th, 2022. Tuesday 7th December is opening night of the show. The entire run has been selling tickets at 100% capacity. I don’t know what this means for the overall production. I really hope something can be salvaged.

In any case I had a ticket to see it. With purpose, I marched to the theatre last night (stopping along the way to purchase a bottle of sugar-free bottle of bitter lemon from M and S en route – I don’t think the Abbey are selling interval refreshments yet).

The theatre was packed – a lovely sight.

I know about the ‘no reviews’ until opening night rule that still applies to newspapers and professional reviewers. However I am merely a theatre-goer who has paid for a ticket to see a show. That rule doesn’t apply in this instance.

I loved it.

The play consists of four parts, with a monologue making up each segment. These are given, by Francis Hardy – the Fantastic Faith Healer (Gillen); his wife, Grace (Niamh Cusack); his manager, Teddy (Nigel Lindsay), and finally Hardy once more.

The monologues tell the story of Hardy a drunken Irish faith healer, who tours rural Scotland and Wales in the mid twentieth century, to audiences of people desperate for redemption – including an evening in Wales where ten people are ‘cured’; and culminating in an evening in Donegal where Francis and Grace have returned after decades away from home to possibly tragic consequences . The bones of the story are the same in each monologue but the perspective of each character about what happens varies drastically. There’s no interaction between any of the actors onstage so each can be judged individually. All are impressive. Niamh Cusack is brilliant.

I’d like to tell you to go see it. I am not sure whether this will be possible. I hope it is.

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