Faith Healer | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Faith Healer 

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One highlight of a season dominated by Irish theater—from the Seanachai Theatre Company's revival of Brian Friel's Translations to the Free Associates' Friel parody Chancing at Lunacy—is this week's remounting of a brilliant 1995 TurnAround Theatre production of Friel's 1979 play, the tragic tale of an itinerant Irish faith healer and his cockney promoter and long-suffering wife. Touring the peasant villages of Wales and Scotland, the exiled Irishman has an unreliable gift for working miracles, a skill rooted in an inner power more demonic than divine; the story of his destruction is a poetic meditation on the artist's talent as both gift and curse. Like Friel's later Molly Sweeney, this work takes the form of monologues delivered by the three characters, who relive the action as they describe it; a virtuosic feat of craft and memory for the actors—each monologue is a half hour or more in length—this is also a feast of close-up storytelling, an emotional tour de force for Si Osborne as the charismatic but self-destructive faith healer, Lia Mortensen as his bleak, self-sacrificing wife, and Brad Armacost as the flamboyant yet seedy promoter compelled to testify to the terrible wonders he witnesses. This two-performance engagement is a benefit for the Irish American Heritage Center and victims of last year's bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, 773-282-7035. March 28 and 29: Sunday, 6 PM; Monday, 7:30 PM. $20. —Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still.

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