In the current remount of Faith Healer playing at The Den Theatre, the itinerant Irish Faith Healer, Frank, begins by reciting the names of Welsh and Scottish towns. These are towns he has passed through, ” healing” for one night at a time. He is tired of these towns. I have been to many places near those he mentioned. As Frank Hardy (Si Osborne) spins his story, creating images with his words, I was immediately drawn in as I envisioned the towns coming to life around me.
You can experience the intimate setting and this powerful production until January 20, 2013 at The Den Theatre, which is the perfect venue for this remounted production. Faith Healer, written by Brian Friel and directed by J.R. Sullivan, features the original cast members, Brad Armacost, Lia D. Mortensen and Si Osborne who played to sold out houses at the TurnAround and Steppenwolf Theatres 17 years ago.
This dramatic, mysterious and humorous work focuses on the life and times of Frank Hardy (Si Osborne), an itinerant Irish Healer. The play is presented in four separate monologues, that explores the healing power of faith. First, Frank tells his story. He is puzzled by his “gift,” which has appeared despite the fact that he is not really a religious person. Still, sometimes it seemed that he performs miracles that just seem to happen, though he does not know why. And sometimes nothing will happen, and he knows this too, and does not understand it.
Frank's wife/mistress, Grace (Lia D. Mortensen) tells her story next, a different version of many of the same events. She has supported and stayed with Frank and recognizes his special talent. Frank’s promoter and set-up man, Teddy (Brad Armacost) speaks third. In his Cockney accent and twist of words, he describes the same events in a funny and touching way. As the fourth speaker, Frank’s epilogue brings the play to a startling conclusion.
Each of these actors is outstanding as they bring the audience into their stories. Each speaker creates complicated images with the power of their words and gestures. The sets and lighting were perfect for the mood and the phonograph was especially intriguing and enhanced Teddy’s story.
The production team for Faith Healer includes: Henry Behel (scenic design, graphic design), Rachel S. Parent (costume design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Marshall Crawford (sound design, assistant director, production stage manager), Jen Bukovsky (asst. stage manager), Kris Kontour (technical director) and Cynthia Judge (associate producer).
Faith Healer joins The Den Theatre's first full season in its newly-expanded, five-theater home in Wicker Park. The Den Theatre is committed to producing theatre that explores our very human search for identity, companionship, and most importantly, a place to call home. Productions reflect this shared need to find our purpose and to understand our place in the world. By way of this mission, The Den seeks to welcome artists of all disciplines to join our ensemble and our audiences in creating a welcoming atmosphere that we can all call home.
The Den Theatre
1333 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Photos by Joe Mazza