The Faith Healer, Gate Theatre, Dublin
Masterly, unreliable memoirs
Sunday 12 February 2006
This was a strangely apt prologue to Faith Healer's eerie sequence of monologues where you never quite know what is fact or fabulation or whether the unreliable witnesses materialising out of the darkness are flesh and blood or ghostly hallucinations. Fiennes's outwardly cool Frank is the miracle-worker (or was he only a charlatan?); Ingrid Craigie's Grace, is his shaky ex-mistress (or was she his wife?), and Ian McDiarmid's Teddy his superficially chirpy former manager. Each confides in us, recounting increasingly painful memories of touring round small dusty halls on Britain's Celtic fringes, with Frank sometimes unfathomably curing the sick, other times failing, drinking and viciously quarreling with Grace.
This is an extraordinarily rich, elusively looping piece of writing. Fiennes brings out a surprisingly dry humour and chattiness in Frank underlaid by deep bitterness, vulnerability and grief. Craigie has a touching core of still-girlish charisma and McDiarmid is wonderfully funny, as well as quietly heartbroken, as the old cockney raconteur. One audience member booed over the final warm applause, seemingly unable to distinguish between Fiennes's life and his art.
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