Brian Friel's FAITH HEALER Comes to Odyssey Theatre
Is Fantastic Francis Hardy a miracle worker - or a showman in search of a dollar? Odyssey Theatre Ensemble continues its 50th anniversary season with Faith Healer, Brian Friel's mysterious, humorous and unforgettable work about an itinerant Irish healer. Odyssey artistic director Ron Sossi directs for a March 23 opening, with performances continuing through May 12.
Uniquely structured, Faith Healer illustrates the healing power of faith through four separate monologues. First we meet Frank, played by Paul Norwood (title role in Edward II at the Globe Playhouse), as he grapples with his "gift." Next is Frank's patient but suffering wife, Grace, portrayed by Diana Cignoni (Odyssey productions of White Marriage, Oedipus Machina, Beckett 5, Taking Sides). Third up is Frank's promoter and set-up man, a Cockney named Teddy realized by Ron Bottitta (currently on stage at the Odyssey in Hir, previously seen in Odyssey productions of Rank, Theatre in the Dark and Accidental Death of an Anarchist), who puts a touching and comical show business spin on events. Frank's epilogue brings the play to a startling conclusion.
According to Sossi, the play is "at once a Rashomon type mystery, a delving into talent versus sham and, ultimately, a uniquely metaphysical view of life."
In his five star review of a recent revival at London's Donmar Warehouse, Mark Shenton wrote in The Stage, "Brian Friel's haunting memory play is quietly but persuasively phenomenal. It revolves around faith and healing, as its title suggests, but also about miracles and mistakes, the show business of faith and the blind faith of putting on a show. The show man - or is it shaman or charlatan? - here is an Irish travelling healer, who travels around Scotland, Wales and Ireland dispensing a kind of hope to the hopeless, but secretly knowing that it rarely works."
One of Ireland's greatest playwrights, Brian Friel is best known for his works Philadelphia Here I Come!, Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa. Faith Healer is Friel's masterpiece, defining his uniquely poetic and intensely human voice, a landmark play in the rich landscape of Irish theater.
The creative team includes set designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, lighting designer Rose Malone, sound designer Christopher Moscatiello and costume designer Denise Blasor.
Faith Healer continues the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble's 50th anniversary season. Founded in 1969 when Ron Sossi decided to demonstrate that experiment-oriented theater could have populist appeal and be fiscally solvent while maintaining the highest artistic standards, the Odyssey continues to explore, produce and present works on the forefront of contemporary theater art in its three-theater complex in West Los Angeles. Coming up in 2019: an exciting retrospective of seminal theater works that inspired the Odyssey at the time of its inception, a rich time of experimentation and exploration when the theatrical soil was fertile both here and abroad.
Performances of Faith Healer take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from March 23 through May 12. On Sunday, March 24 only, the performance will be at 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee. Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesday, April 10; Thursday, April 18; and Wednesday, May 8, all at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $32 to $37; there will be three "Tix for $10" performances, on Friday, March 29; Wednesday, April 10; and Friday, April 26. Additional discounts are available at select performances for seniors, students and patrons under 30; call theater for details.
The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.