Friday, May 05, 2006

Critics Believe in Faith Healer




Critics Believe in Faith Healer

With the clock ticking on the last moments of the 2005-06 Broadway theatrical season, I noted last week that most of the expected critical praise would likely be heaped upon the final entrants. Faith Healer is the latest show to open to critical acclaim, and certainly appears to have made true believers out of even the toughest of critics.

Case in point is The New York Times' Ben Brantley, who seemed downright mesmerized. His review mostly consisted of praise for the production and singled out Ralph Fiennes: "This shrewd channeling of his glamorously peevish star shine may finally get Faith Healer, a production from the Gate Theater of Dublin, directed with poetic starkness by Jonathan Kent, the New York audience it deserves...Faith Healer (is) a major work of art."

Elysa Gardner of USA Today awarded Faith Healer ***1/2 stars, noting: "In the title role, Ralph Fiennes, returning to Broadway for the first time since his Tony Award-winning turn 11 years ago in Hamlet (also directed by Kent, originally for the UK's Almeida Theatre), again delivers the nuanced intensity that makes him one of our most compelling stage and screen actors."

New York Post's Clive Barnes' review -- aptly titled "Fiennes & Co. Renew Faith in Theatre" -- raved: "Faith Healer is, to use one of its key words, a 'fantastic' theatrical experience, outdistancing the current Broadway pack by a country mile, with three performances to be treasured in memory, and reinforcing Friel's position as one of the three or four finest living English-speaking playwrights."

Broadway.com's Ron Kendt agreed: "Acting this good can be healing. In Brian Friel's Faith Healer, the simplest and most hypnotic show on Broadway, audiences find themselves in the capable and tender care of three very different, indeed vividly distinct, pros." Linda Winer of Newsday proclaimed Faith Healer "...a peculiar but mesmerizing evening," and New York Daily News' Howard Kissel agrees stating the play provides an "...extraordinary, unforgettable evening..."

For a show that first opened 27 years ago, only to survive 20 regular performances, this newfound praise is sweet vindication for playwright Brian Friel. I'm looking forward to being in the audience tomorrow evening and will have my own review shortly thereafter.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Faith Healer (SOB Review) - Booth Theatre, New York, NY (May 10, 2006)
Faith Healer Seeks Believers on Broadway Tonight (May 4, 2006)
Broadway Season Nears Finale (April 30, 2006)

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