Faith Healer and The Good Thief

One is the story of a no-name criminal who is hiding out not only from two different crime bosses but from charges of kidnapping and murder as well. The spotlight is on actor Santry Rush in The Good Thief as his character becomes the prey, rather than the hunter, leading him to review his life in Conor McPherson’s one-man show.

In Faith Healer, the other play being staged on alternate nights by Stark Naked Theatre Company, the issue of how a life can be told from different perspectives is at the fore. Philip Lehl plays Frank Hardy; his wife, Kim Tobin, plays Frank’s wife, Grace; and John Tyson, who was with the Alley Theatre Company for 14 years as an actor and sometime director, is Frank’s manager, Teddy. Tyson, who is directing both plays, says wryly: “It’s a lot of Irish.”

Tyson has done The Good Thief with Rush before in another venue, and thought it would pair well with playwright Brian Friel’s Faith Healer — something he performed 20 years ago. Rush even wrote to McPherson with a question about a plot point and got a nice note back, he says, which didn’t answer the question and encouraged him “to explore it the way you want to explore it,” Rush says. Tobin says both plays have beautiful, lyrical writing in them. Regular attendees at Stark Naked’s home stage at Spring Street Studios will be surprised to learn that they’re bringing the audience even closer for these shows. “We’ve made the space even more intimate. It’s tighter in an intensely intimate experience,” Lehl says, likening it to sitting across a kitchen table from someone.

Faith Healer opens at 8 p.m. Friday. Regular curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. The Good Thief opens at 8 p.m. January 29. Regular curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. February 14 and 15. 1824 Spring. For information, call 832-866-6514 or visit Pay-what-you-can to $20.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 23. Continues through Feb. 15, 2014

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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