Review: ‘Faith Healer’ at The Gamm

by | Jan 17, 2023

Above: Tony Estrella as Frank in the Gamm Theatre’s 2023 production of “Faith Healer.” Photo by Cat Laine for the Gamm Theatre

Is a faith healer an artist, an entertainer or a hand of god? All three? And what happens to the faith healer who himself gets confused about the differences? Those are the questions at the heart of the Gamm Theatre’s compelling new production of Faith Healer by famed Irish playwright Brian Friel. 

As played by Gamm Artistic Director Tony Estrella, faith healer Frank Hardy is fully aware of his limitations but when the magic happens – as sometimes it does – he is in thrall. 

The play opens with Frank onstage, talking about life on the road being a faith healer, blowing into town after town for “one night only!” as the show’s banner proclaims. His traveling companions, his wife (mistress?) Grace (Jeanine Kane), and his manager, Teddy (Brandon Whitehead), each take the stage after him to deliver monologues of their own. They recount shared experiences from distinctly different points of view and, not infrequently, different sets of facts as well. 

The highlight of Frank’s career is one strange night in Wales where it seems at first no one has come to see the show, then suddenly 10 people arrive, each with some type of ailment. Frank cures them all and he carries around a folded up piece of newspaper with the story of that remarkable night as a talisman (even though it misspells Frank’s last name –Harding, not Hardy).

Grace is a wreck, living a post-Frank life. She and Teddy are the ones who tell of a tragedy at the core of Grace and Franks’s splintered relationship. The event marks a turning point for the play, though not a point of no return. Frank departs and comes back. The three of them travel to Ireland, land of Frank and Grace’s birth, to a fateful night when one cure prompts the need for another. But that cure is not as readily available and Frank must make a decision.

A play consisting of only monologues is rare and demands that viewers pay attention. It is a stirring tale and the individual stories are well told, though this viewer found Frank’s second stint on the stage more compelling than his first. 

The accents are top rate, as director Donnla Hughes promised.

Learn more about the production and get tickets HERE.

Jeanine Kane plays Grace in Gamm’s ‘Faith Healer.’ Photo by Cat Laine for the Gamm Theatre

Brandon Whitehead plays Teddy in Gamm’s ‘Faith Healer.’ Photo by Cat Laine for the Gamm Theatre

Value the news you get here on East Greenwich News? As a 501-c3, we depend on reader support. Become a sustaining (monthly) donor or make a one-time donation! Click on the Donate button below or send a check to EG News, 18 Prospect St., East Greenwich, RI 02818. Thanks.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
January 18, 2023 12:45 am

This is a great summary and I agree that Donnla did a superb job coaching the accents and directing this very stirring play. I didn’t enjoy Franks closing monologue as much as the beginning…maybe because I disliked the character by that point?

January 18, 2023 12:48 am
Reply to  Danielle

I forgot to add that I also think this is one of the Gamm’s best, and anyone who enjoys really compelling “master class” theater should be tickets right away because this is a very short run and really a winner.

Kevin Muoio
Kevin Muoio
January 18, 2023 12:35 pm

My wife and I saw the show last night and we really enjoyed it! We discussed it the whole drive home, trying to decipher the ending which is intentionally cryptic. With the show being a series of monologues, it’s a deviation from most plays I’ve seen. Three very compelling storytellers give their side of the Faith Healer story, with a jarring event at the center of each. It’s up to the viewer to put the pieces together and determine whose version is the truth. As this review mentions, the accents are on point and add to the immersion of the experience. My favorite part was Teddy’s monologue (above in the red smoking jacket) as the faith healer’s manager. Teddy is a true P.T. Barnum type with a huge bellowing voice and a very persuasive storytelling style. You feel like you’re sharing a drink at a bar with a friend. The way he speaks about Grace and specifically the critical event they shared, you’re hanging on his every word. I learned last night that it’s a short run at The Gamm, just until the end of the month. It’s great – don’t miss it!


Newsletter Sign Up

* indicates required


Latest Streaming