Last night’s opening of Brian Friel’s famous play is a tribute to pared back theatre.
Through four compelling monologues, the story unfolds around the life and work of Frank Hardy, the Faith Healer.
Written in 1979, Brian Friel’s play soon found its way to Broadway. Described as the Irish Chekov, he is one of Ireland’s most famous dramatists.
There is an enormous responsibility on an actor’s shoulder to perform monologues, they need to create and maintain a character and the plot in a very tight space. It’s a compelling narrative style though, as Frank, Grace and Teddy take the audience on a journey of conflicting versions of their life’s events.
The cast are more than up to the challenge. Gina Costigan, who plays Grace, brings a delicate clarity to her delivery. She portrays power and pain in a single line.
Grace is Hardy’s long-time mistress, who left her career in law to follow him and support him with his ‘gift’. It’s incredible how she can explain her love for Hardy, when its revealed in Teddy’s monlogue that she belittled his so called gift.
The script is littered with these wonderful morsels of contradiction that keep the audience hooked on the actors’s every word.
Paul Carroll plays Frank with a soft vigour, a gentle, Irish geniality, emphasising his modesty around his gift, and the confusion it brings along with his reliance on alcohol.
Teddy played by Jonathan Ashley brings a bit of levity to the evening with descriptions of a bagpipe playing whippet and a pigeon whisperer among his clients. But it’s his devotion to Hardy and Grace, that is displayed with honesty and perhaps the ‘real’ truth. Is Teddy. The reliable witness?
The staging, is simple, and subtly ground sthe performances in its geography. You can just about make out three islands of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in the reflection of the mirrored back drop, also a metaphor for the play reflecting events and people in the past.
While it feels period, with costumes and props, the themes of homecoming, loss, trauma, addiction and sacrifice are timeless.
Voted as one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century, it should be on everyone’s to do list this week.
This is theatre at its rawest. There is nowhere to hide, the performances are immaculate.
Director, Michael Cabot directs and is the founder and Artistic Director of London Classic Theatre that brings this production to our beloved Devonshire Park Theatre.
Devonshire Park Theatre, Compton Street, Eastbourne BN21 4BW
Tue 7 Nov 2023 – Sat 11 Nov 2023
Tue – Fri 7.45pm
Wed & Sat Matinee 2.30pm
Run time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes including interval
Tues – Thurs evenings £20.00 – £25.50
Fri evening £23.00 – £27.50
Wed & Sat matinees £20.00, £22.00
Concession £1.50 off (Top 2 prices, apply Tue – Thu 7.45pm only)
Under 16s & Students £10.00
Under 25s £15.00
Groups 10+ 10% off (Top 2 prices, Tue – Thu 7.45pm only)
Friends of DPT 25% (First 2 nights)
Ovation Premium & Plus members 10% off (Tue – Thu, Max 4 tickets)