The play was voted as one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century in a poll conducted by Royal National Theatre and has been named by The Independent as one of the "40 best plays of all time".
The monologues tell the story of Hardy, including an incident in a Welsh village in which he cures ten people. Teddy's monologue reveals that Grace dies by suicide, while Hardy ponders whether his gift is real or not. In his 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 explicit however, that Hardy is actually killed; Friel leaves this to the reader's interpretation.
Faith Healer received its first performance on 23 February 1979 in Boston in a production directed by José Quintero and starring James Mason, Clarissa Kaye and Donal Donnelly. The production then opened in New York City at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway and closed after twenty performances. 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 Theatre in March 1981, directed by Christopher Fettes, with Patrick Magee, Helen Mirren and Stephen Lewis.
BBC Radio produced the play with Norman Rodway as Frank, June Tobin as Gracie and Warren Mitchell as Teddy. It was produced by Robert Cooper and broadcast on Radio 3 on 13 March 1980, with a repeat on 18 May 1980.
It was revived in 1983 at the Vineyard Theatre, directed by Dann Florek, with J. T. Walsh, Kathleen Chalfant and Martin Shakar. In the same year, William Needles played the title role at the University of California, Irvine. Also in the cast were Mary Anne McGarry and Keith Fowler. The show was revived under the direction of Robert Cohen for a gala presentation to the UCI Theater Guild.
Joe Dowling returned to the play in 1992 at the Royal Court Theatre, London, his production again starring Donal McCann, joined by Sinéad Cusack and Ron Cook to huge acclaim. The critic Sarah Compton remarked that it was "a version so potent that I can look back on it now in vivid, overwhelming detail". Two years later, the production opened at the Long Wharf Theatre, with McCann and Cook. Cusack was sadly unavailable and Judy Geeson took over. 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. 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 4 May 2006, 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 were The Yalta Game and Afterplay. This production played at the Gate Theatre in Dublin in January 2010. In 2009, it was also staged by Eric Hill at the Unicorn Theatre as part of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, with Colin Lane, Kiera Naughton and David Atkins to unanimous acclaim.
On 22 October 2016, the play opened at Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney, Australia. Directed by Judy Davis with the cast of Colin Friels, Alison Whyte and Pip Miller. "This will go down as one of those nights when you feel that theatre has laid its hands on you."
An Abbey Theatre production, directed by Joe Dowling and designed by John Lee Beatty, and starring Aidan Gillen as Frank Hardy had been planned for early 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19.  However, the Old Vic Theatre live streamed a five performance production featuring Michael Sheen as Frank Hardy, with David Threlfall and Indira Varma, in September 2020.
Awards and nominations
2016 London revival
|2016||Critics’ Circle Theatre Award||Best Actor||Stephen Dillane||Won|
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