Faith Healer | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Faith Healer 

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In their three separate monologues Frank, an itinerant healer, his wife Grace, and his manager Teddy agree on only one thing when it comes to that evening in a Ballybeg bar: an incident occurred that would result in two of them committing suicide. Playwright Brian Friel teases us with the details of that traumatic night as he introduces us to the three, each of whom eagerly tells his or her side of the story, allowing us to note the all-too-human deceptions practiced by these loyal but ill-met companions. A runaway hit last season at the tiny TurnAround Theatre, Faith Healer has now been revived with the original cast at Steppenwolf's studio theater. While the larger playing space does tend to slow the action at times, director J. R. Sullivan and his stellar performers--Si Osborne as the charismatic charlatan drowning in whiskey and the mystery of his own powers, Lia Mortensen as the rebellious spouse hungry for love, and Brad Armacost as the showman whose braggadocio conceals the soul of a romantic--create vivid, eccentric, thoroughly endearing personalities. Their riveting confessions make the show's two and a half hours pass as swiftly as a Donegal spring. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, 335-1650. Through November 19: Wednesdays-Fridays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM. $14.50-$19.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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