Faith Healer is a play by Brian Friel about the life of faith healer Francis Hardy as monologued through the shifting memories of Hardy, his wife, Grace, and stage manager, Teddy.
The play consists of four parts, with a monologue making up each part. The monologues are given, in order, by the faith healer, Francis (Frank) Hardy himself; his wife, Grace; his cockney manager, Teddy, and finally Hardy again.
The monologues tell the story of the faith healer himself, including an incident in a Welsh village in which he cures ten people. Teddy's monologue reveals that Grace Hardy commits suicide, while Frank ponders whether his gift is for real or not. In Frank's second monologue, it is suggested that he is killed near his home after being unable to heal a cripple. He says that he knows he will not be able to heal him and, going to face death, he feels a sense of homecoming. It is not made explicitly clear however, that Frank is actually killed; Friel leaves this up to the reader's interpretation.
The fact that the play does not end definitively typifies a main point of the play; each character gives a different recollection of the same events throughout the page.
There was a radio production of the play on BBC Radio 3 in March 1980. The first production in Ireland was at the Abbey Theatre in August 1980, in a production by Joe Dowling starring Donal McCann, Kate Flynn and John Kavanagh. The first London production was at the Royal Court in London in March 1981, directed by Christopher Fettes, with Patrick Magee, Helen Mirren and Stephen Lewis.
Joe Dowling returned to the play in 1994 at the Long Wharf Theatre, his production again starring Donal McCann, this time with Judy Geeson and Ron Cook. The New York Times called the production "incandescent" and recommended it to "any connoisseur of theater".
It was revived in London in 2001 by the Almeida Theatre, in a production by Jonathan Kent. The cast consisted of Ken Stott, Geraldine James and Ian McDiarmid. Ian McDiarmid won the 2001 Critics' Circle Best Actor Award for this role.
Jonathan Kent revived the play again for the Gate Theatre in Dublin early in 2006, this time with Ralph Fiennes, Ingrid Craigie and Ian McDiarmid. This production opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre on May 4, 2006, now with Cherry Jones as Grace. On Broadway it received four Tony Award nominations and won the Best Featured Actor in a Play, Ian McDiarmid.
The Gate Theatre revived the play again in 2009, presenting the play at the Sydney Festival, as part of a trio of works being performed to honour the eightieth birthday of Friel. The other works are The Yalta Game and Afterplay. This production played at the Gate Theatre in Dublin in January 2010. In 2009, it was also staged at the Unicorn Theatre as part of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
In October 2009, Joe Dowling directed the play yet again at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This time Dowling also took on the lead role of Frank Hardy himself.
In February 2011, it was staged at Bristol Old Vic under the direction of Associate Director Simon Godwin.
- Friel, Brian, Faith Healer. London, Faber, 1980.
- Billington, Michael, Faith Healer, review of production at the Almeida Theatre, The Guardian, 30 November 2001.
- Fricker, Karen, Faith Healer, review of production at the Gate Theatre, The Guardian, 9 February 2006.
- Brantley, Ben, Ralph Fiennes, Portraying the Gaunt Genius in 'Faith Healer', New York Times, 5 May 2006.