Langham Court ends their season with the audience-pleasing “good guys vs bad guys” Obie-awarded comedy, The Foreigner. Playwright Larry Shue, considered at the time to be a rising star, had achieved success for his previous play, The Nerd, and was working on a screen play for The Foreigner when his life was cut short in a tragic commuter plane crash in 1985.
Set at a fishing lodge in rural Georgia, The Foreigner examines the question “what would people say about and to you if they thought you couldn’t understand them”.
Froggie LeSueur (Drew Waveryn) a special-ops British officer, brings his friend, the painfully shy Charlie (Perry Burton), with him on a business trip, as a reprieve from the boring sameness of Charlie’s life as an editor, and husband to a sick wife. Charlie is terrified at the prospects of meeting and actually talking to strangers, but Froggie finds a way around this dilemma by pretending that Charlie is “a foreigner” who neither understands nor speaks English. Then, Froggie departs, leaving Charlie to fend for himself.
It soon becomes evident that not all is placid in this Georgia backwater. The cast of broadly-drawn characters – eccentric lodge owner Betty Meeks (Lesley Gibbs), rich southern belle Catherine (Sarah Sabo), her idiot-savant brother Ellard (Nick Sepi), handsome hero turned villain Reverend David (Paul Shortt), and local redneck Owen (Henry Skey) – are involved in several intrigues, developed as underpinnings to the main premise.
The Foreigner is broad comedy, and this cast, directed by Toshik Buowiecki, embraces the medium with gusto. As Charlie slowly unfurls, going from shy, bashful Brit to a “remarkable” man, his physical interactions become even more unbelievable, adding to the hilarity. Reverend David is suitably dastardly (and gets his come-uppance); and Owen provides the menace.
It’s “old-fashioned”, as the director notes. We’re meant to laugh at the character’s foibles (without questioning intent too deeply), and audiences on opening night definitely responded. After a slower first half, the play picks up pace in the second act and keeps the audience guessing at the resolution of the various plot points.
Perry Burton (Charlie Baker) and Nick Sepi (Ellard Simms) Photo: David Lowes /Art Studio 21
Set designer Dick Newson brings great period detail to the fishing lodge with the perfect blend of crocheted afghans, decorative plates and spoon racks. Langham Courtcarpenters and crew work excel at creating intricate working sets – including the trap-door to the cellar that is central to the resolution in The Foreigner.
Sound designer Max Terpstra provides a cheery soundscape of banjo and down-home-country music, not only as backdrop to the action onstage, but during the intermission.
From the moment we arrive, to the moment we leave, it is evident that the many volunteers of The Victoria Theatre Guild care deeply about providing the best possible experience to theatre-goers. The ample signage, many greeters and ushers, beautiful art in the newly-renovated lounge, and historical displays combine to encourage participation. The lounge was crowded with people of all ages, a sure sign that the Langham Court formula and approach works.
The 2012/2013 season has just been announced, and invites us to “Take a voyage of the imagination”. Season’s passes are now on sale.
The Foreigner, by Larry Shue, directed by Toshik Bukowiecki
Langham Court Theatre June 13-30
$19 for Adults
$17 for Students/Seniors (65+)
$14 per for groups 10 or more
Schedule (Jun 13-Jun 30, 12)
Jun 13 to 16: Wed thru Sat
Jun 19 to 23: Tues thru Sat
Jun 26 to 30: Tues thru Sat
Nightly showtime at 8:00pm
Matinees Jun 23 & 30 at 2:00pm
No shows Sun or Mon
Drew Waveryn – Froggie LeSueur
Perry Burton – Charlie Baker
Lesley Gibbs – Betty Meeks
Paul Shortt – Rev David Marshall Lee
Sarah Sabo – Catherine Simms
Henry Skey – Owen Musser
Nick Sepi – Ellard Simms
Director: Toshik Bukowiecki
Producer: Christine Krapiak
Stage Manager: Nick Stull
Set Design: Dick Newson
Lighting Design: Stephen Jackson
Costume Design: Anne Marie Arneson
Sound Design: Ma Terpstra
Properties/Set Dresser: Jean De Cartier
Disclaimer: I was offered complimentary tickets to attend the opening night of this play. I was not paid to write a review nor was I required to do so. As always, I retain editorial control over all the content published on this blog