Saturday, 8 November 2014

Brian Friel's The Faith Healer

I can't believe it's already November and only my first Pentas 2 play of the year. Okay, I'm just picky about what I pay to go see these days. But this I can't pass up, as it has been at least a decade since I last saw Zahim Albakri perform on stage...

Cutting it really close this time in the Friday evening rain, I got there literally minutes before they were actually about to start (as in, close the doors start), and before my friend who bought the tickets came running in not long after. 

From the klpac website... 
Starring Zahim Albakri, Ida Nerina and Na’a Murad.
Faith Healer is a play told in four parts by three individuals; the eponymous hero whose name is Frank Hardy, Gracie who is Frank Hardy’s wife, Frank Hardy’s manager Teddy and finally by Frank Hardy once again. Each of them in their own way describes their successes and failures of their lives in a highly dramatic, comic and at times in terrifying details as they bring forth the Faith Healing performances to small villages halls in remote parts of the UK.
There are stories of miracle cures, stillborn babies and the most intense part of the play would be the return to Frank’s home in a faraway Irish town as well as his possible death at the hands of a bunch of violent villagers and their wheelchair-bound friend. Ultimately, we may see that faith is so misdirected it results in both subtly and wildly differing recollections of the characters’ accounts of their life events which at times led them to downright lying.
The only constant props on stage were chairs and also a banner the size of a queen-sized bedsheet (from where I was sitting, anyway) that said "THE FANTASTIC/FRANCIS HARDY/FAITH HEALER/ONE NIGHT ONLY". 

There are a lot of hijab-ed students in attendance. I did wonder where they came from and why (extra credit?).

Here's an etiquette question I want to ask the theatre goers: Is it common practice to clap after every monologue? I'm more the "applause at the end" kind of person. And this has been bugging me for years. Also the little noises you can't exactly ignore as another audience member who's trying to get what is being said, let alone if you're on stage performing a monologue at least half an hour long. 

Everyone that's still inside was told to clear the room during intermission, which made sense because Teddy (Na'a Murad) was already in his comfy chair with drinks, about to start his monologue. 

Miscellaneous observations: 
  • RM63 for a play in Pentas 2 seems a tad excessive, but that's just me.
  • Was Frank's suit intentionally ill-fitting?
  • What I thought was thunder at first turned out to be the drum performance concurrently happening upstairs at Pentas 1. And the drums added a nice touch to the last monologue. 
  • Have to like that they didn't localise the details, or it would've also bugged me as much as the weird little noises from the audience. 
  • I wonder what are they actually drinking on stage..?
  • Used the applause to cough to my lungs' content. 
Even though (at least) half the audience was under the weather and on their meds (if the coughing and sneezing were anything to go by), it was captivating enough. If I have to guess (SPOILER ALERT)... I say that Frank did die in the end, followed by Grace's OD-ing. 

Really limited run: You have tonight and tomorrow's matinee performance to catch.

PS. Na'a answered some of the questions on Twitter :)