The play consists of four parts, with a monologue making up each part. The monologues are given, in order, by Hardy himself; his wife, Grace; his manager, Teddy, and finally Hardy again.
The monologues tell the story of Hardy, including an incident in a Welsh village in which he cures ten people. Teddy's monologue reveals that Grace commits suicide, while Hardy ponders whether his gift is real or not. In his second monologue, it is suggested that he is killed near his home after being unable to heal a cripple. He says that he knows he will not be able to heal him and, going to face death, he feels a sense of homecoming. It is not made explicit however, that Hardy is actually killed; Friel leaves this to the reader's interpretation.
Faith Healer received its first performance on 5 April 1979 on Broadway in a production by José Quintero, with James Mason, Clarissa Kaye and Donal Donnelly. It closed after twenty performances. The first production in Ireland was at the Abbey Theatre in August 1980, in a production by Joe Dowling starring Donal McCann, Kate Flynn and John Kavanagh. The first London production was at the Royal Court Theatre in March 1981, directed by Christopher Fettes, with Patrick Magee, Helen Mirren and Stephen Lewis.
It was revived in 1983 at the Vineyard Theatre, directed by Dann Florek, with J. T. Walsh, Kathleen Chalfant and Martin Shakar. In the same year, William Needles played the title role at the University of California, Irvine. Also in the cast were Mary Anne McGarry and Keith Fowler. The show was revived under the direction of Robert Cohen for a gala presentation to the UCI Theater Guild.
Joe Dowling returned to the play in 1994 at the Long Wharf Theatre, his production again starring Donal McCann, this time with Judy Geeson and Ron Cook. The New York Times called the production "incandescent" and recommended it to "any connoisseur of theater".
It was revived in London in 2001 by the Almeida Theatre, in a production by Jonathan Kent. The cast consisted of Ken Stott, Geraldine James and Ian McDiarmid. McDiarmid won the 2001 Critics' Circle Best Actor Award for this role.
Jonathan Kent revived the play again for the Gate Theatre in Dublin early in 2006, this time with Ralph Fiennes, Ingrid Craigie and Ian McDiarmid. This production opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre on 4 May 2006, with Cherry Jones as Grace. On Broadway it received four Tony Award nominations and won the Best Featured Actor in a Play, Ian McDiarmid.
The Gate Theatre revived the play again in 2009, presenting the play at the Sydney Festival as part of a trio of works being performed to honour the eightieth birthday of Friel. The other works were The Yalta Game and Afterplay. This production played at the Gate Theatre in Dublin in January 2010. In 2009, it was also staged at the Unicorn Theatre as part of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
In October 2009, Joe Dowling directed the play yet again at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This time Dowling also took on the lead role of Frank Hardy himself.
In February 2011, it was staged at Bristol Old Vic under the direction of associate director Simon Godwin.
- "Faith Healer - Donmar Warehouse". www.donmarwarehouse.com. Retrieved 2016-09-09.
- Friel, Brian, Faith Healer. London, Faber, 1980.
- Billington, Michael, "Faith Healer", review of production at the Almeida Theatre, The Guardian, 30 November 2001.
- Fricker, Karen, "Faith Healer", review of production at the Gate Theatre, The Guardian, 9 February 2006.
- Brantley, Ben, "Ralph Fiennes, Portraying the Gaunt Genius in 'Faith Healer'", New York Times, 5 May 2006.
- Price, Graham (13 December 2014). "Memory, narration and spectrality in Brian Friel's Faith Healer and Frank McGuinness's Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme". Irish Studies Review. 23 (1): 33–47. doi:10.1080/09670882.2014.986930.
- Filipino Folklore: Faith Healer
- Faith Healer at Internet Broadway Database
- Details on 2006 Broadway production