It is a tricky thing, the monologue. A difficult thing to act, a stream of consciousness conveying inner most thoughts, the reality of the character without counterpoint.
Examples are abundant throughout classic plays. Shakespeare uses the monologue extensively as a tool. In contemporary examples, the monologue is also used as a device - by the likes of Christopher Durang in Laughing Wild and John Patrick Shanley in The Seeing Space as examples. And we find the monologue utilised in movies and poetry too.
In this example, Faith Healer now playing at Belvoir St Theatre, the play is nothing except monologues, which seems in itself the perfect choice of stream-of-consciousness delivery given its subject matter.
This fascinating play by Brian Hardy is not only comprised of challenging monologues, but a magnificent, intriguing and entertaining script that captures and keeps the attention of the audience.
Faith Healer relates the life of the itinerant faith healer Francis Hardy through the shifting memories of Hardy, his de facto Grace, and stage manager, Teddy.
Ten years ago in the Broadway revivial of the 1970s play, Ralph Fiennes received acclaim for his role in the lead.
At Belvoir St this role of Francis Hardy is brilliantly portrayed in 2016 by Colin Friels, in what I suggest is not only the best performance of his career, but also the best single performance that I have seen on the stage. Friels was Francis Hardy, and not just the role of the character in the play. His performance is both centrally egocentric yet vulnerable, raw yet honed, and gives a channeled flow that steps beyond the stage and into the spiritual realm.
Perhaps the monologue could be just as tricky to direct. Fancy taking on that challenge. In this season, Judy Davis provides us with near perfection in delivery with with every word and silence, every breath or lack of breath, every gesture, every minor or major movement, every whisper of hair, every peek of green socks, or taking off an overcoat. And speaking of the overcoat, the costuming by Tess Schofield was perfect for this play, and for the setting of its time and place. Also notable was the immense use of light on the minimalist stage, and lack thereof, in this production.
With this husband and wife team at their finest, and Alison Whyte as Grace and Pip Miller as Teddy, both adding to and offering the same perfection in their own roles as that given up from Colin Friels, it was a immense honour to witness this performance. Faith Healer is not to be missed.
Faith Healer is on at Belvoir St Theatre until Sunday November 27th. Production photos by Brett Boardman.