WBEZ | Brian Friel http://www.wbez.org/tags/brian-friel Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Den Theatre's Faith Healer: Short of Miraculous http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/den-theatres-faith-healer-short-miraculous-104546 <p><p>´╗┐Playwright Brian Friel (&quot;<em>Dancing at Lughnasa&quot;</em>) is the bard of waning traditional Ireland, recounting the sad stories behind the jocund facade. In <em>&quot;Faith Healer&quot;</em>, he leaves Ireland without actually leaving it, addressing the quintessentially Irish question of how to reconcile faith with reality.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6855_407.th_.th_.op_.dentheatre(1).jpg" style="float: right; height: 201px; width: 300px;" title="As they were: 1994 production of Faith Healer" />The title describes both the central character (a maybe-mountebank, maybe-miracle worker) and the phenomenon of having one&#39;s faith in others healed or destroyed by their actions. In a series of monologues, the ostensible healer Frank (Si Osborne), his wife Grace (Lia Mortensen) and their amanuensis Teddy (Brad Armacost) recount the complexities of their long-term three-way relationship.</div><p>The names are significant: Frank refuses to delude himself or the others about the nature of his &quot;gift,&quot; if there is one; Grace clings to her belief that her husband is a blessing; and Teddy (Theodore, or &quot;God&#39;s gift&quot;) turns out to be the only thing holding them together.</p><p>And their collective reflection on themselves and one another gains resonance from the three actors&#39; having played the roles under the same director (J.R.Sullivan) nearly 20 years ago, and from Osborne and Mortensen&#39;s now-dissolved marriage. Yet with all these elements going for the production, it doesn&#39;t quite make it.</p><p>Friel&#39;s play is a bit long-winded, as though the playwright were simply intoxicated by the sound of his characters&#39; voices. And though Armacost&#39;s touchingly comic performance and Mortensen&#39;s fierce, nuanced and loving one make their characters come alive, Osborne&#39;s Frank remains something of a cipher.</p><p>He&#39;s a perfect blend of confidence and self-doubt, charm and mockery, in his opening monologue. But when it&#39;s time for him to wrap up the story and resolve the contradictions in what the three of them have said, he seems to run out of steam.</p><p>To be fair, he&#39;s also burdened with a final sentence that&#39;s less a resolution than a punch-line, which falls flat just like the punch-line of a joke that&#39;s gone on too long. The artists&#39; desire to return in middle age to a work of their youth is understandable, particularly a work as profoundly retrospective as this.</p><p>But that desire can&#39;t overcome a fundamental weakness &mdash; whether of script, direction or performance &mdash; which leaves the<em> &quot;Faith Healer&quot;</em> audience scratching its head, wondering exactly what all the fuss was about.</p></p> Mon, 24 Dec 2012 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/den-theatres-faith-healer-short-miraculous-104546