In a Carriage House in Newton Upper Falls decorated with minimal staging, I sat, prepared to be underwhelmed, waiting for an amateur production of a new theater company.
That never happened.
Instead, I was witness to the birth and premiere production of Newton’s newest and, for my money, finest theater company, The Newton Nomadic Theater.
This first production, Faith Healer, by Brian Friel, is an orgasmic confluence of jaw-dropping acting and directing in a bare-bones insightful production of a rarely offered author’s spellbinding Irish story-telling!
The playwright, Brian Friel, who wrote this play in the late 1970’s, was influenced by Pirandello, another playwright who spun tales in the theater in non-ordinary form. Friel’s writing is strong of tongue, yet weaves an intricate and fine cloth with not a dropped stitch. The faith in Faith Healer resides in the three characters of the play who view the world in which they move through separate kaleidoscopes.
The incantations that introduce the play may summon the spiritual, but the tales told are real, visceral, and moving. Dave Rich, who plays Francis Hardy the itinerant Faith Healer, is spellbinding and compelling in his recounting of his pursuits of healing through Wales, Scotland and Ireland. His mistress Grace (Upper Falls resident Linda Goetz) reflects their journeying from a singularly differing and gut-wrenching perspective, while Teddy (played by Billy Meleady), Frank Hardy’s agent, remembers what he remembers through the fog of ale. This play is not Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, but Friel’s three characters in search of the truth.
The truth is that Rich, Goetz and Meleady all belong on the New York stage. The choice of the play for the itinerant theater company is brilliant as is the play’s direction by Marie Jackson, daughter of Upper Falls and wife of Jerry Reilly.
You can catch this performance for the next two weekends. It will play at Gregorian Rugs in Newton Lower Falls on Friday, October 3 and Saturday, October 4. It will then move on to the First Baptist Church in Newton Center where the final two performances will take place on Friday, October 10 and Saturday, October 11.
Get your tickets at http://newtonnomadictheater.org. Theater lives again in Newton! Bravo!!!!!! Encore!!!!!!