Luis Hernandez: James, this play is a little different from other plays you might see. What’s the big difference?

James Baumgartner: Yeah, the play is told in four monologues, by three different characters, all about the story of Francis Hardy, a traveling faith healer working in the British Isles in the 50s and 60s. Along with Francis, there’s also his wife, Grace, and his manager, Teddy.

Hernandez: Telling a story just in monologues is a challenge, and I find it fascinating how the performers are able to do this. You have to be up there for 20 to 30 minutes alone, on a stage. You have no interaction with any other actor, you might interact a little bit with the audience, but nobody else to bounce off of. You make a mistake, you’re on your own. And it’s just you and the set. And you’d better be good because if you’re not, 20 minutes is going to feel like a really long time. And the actors in this production at the Gamm, are fantastic. All three of them, they really owned the stage, they really owned their moment.

Baumgartner: They absolutely did. Looking at the characters, we don’t see much faith in the Fantastic Francis Hardy, faith healer. Tony Estrella plays him as more like a con artist. He’s not there to cure the sick, he’s there to eliminate the hope of a cure so the sick can resign themselves to their fate. He also doesn’t care much about his wife or manager. While the other two characters tell their story to the audience, he seems to be telling it to himself. Jeanine Kane plays Grace, telling us the story of Francis Hardy with passion and pathos. The faith healer has not been kind to her.

Hernandez: The third monologue is from Teddy, Francis Hardy’s manager played by Brandon Whitehead. He’s having fun as Teddy, providing some much-needed comic relief. Teddy’s a real Cockney showman, addressing the audience directly to tell some of the same stories we heard from the other two characters. This is where the Rashomon effect becomes more clear as no two versions of the stories are the same.

Baumgartner: While most plays involve the performers interacting, that’s just not part of this play with its four monologues. And yet, the performances were so strong that I felt like the actors were interacting with each other, across the monologues. As they told the different versions of the same story, I could see how the pieces fit together.

Hernandez: When I see a play like this, I tend to ask myself, why did the theater decide to produce this right now? And for me, it seems like the con artist is what resonates today. It feels like we’ve seen some very prominent con artists lately. They could be selling biotech miracles or cryptocurrency or get rich quick schemes.

Baumgartner: There are the social media influencers with cure-all supplements and of course the occasional politician who has invented their own compelling backstory. The con artist, or showman if you’re feeling more charitable has always been around.

Hernandez: With just three performers and four monologues, it’s a minimalist play, and the set design reflects that. It’s just a wooden square, a few paces across, and the performers have a chair and sometimes a table. But then in the back corner of the square, there’s a giant pile of old chairs, randomly stacked at all sorts of angles. So if you go to see the play, and I recommend that you do, ask yourself why the set designer chose to have this pile of chairs. Let us know what you think. You can email

Baumgartner: You can see "Faith Healer" at the Gamm Theatre in Warwick through January 29th.

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