Theatre Mirror Review>"The Foreignere"

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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"The Foreigner"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Attleboro Community Theatre's winter show is "The Foreigner", a delightful farce by Larry Shue. The show takes place in a fishing lodge resort in rural Georgia. Froggy LeSeuer, a British demolition expert, occasionally runs training sessions at a nearby airbase. This time Froggy brings a friend,Charlie Baker, a proofreader whose wife finds him boring. he is pathologically shy and is overcome with fear at the thought of making conversation with strangers for three days at the lodge. Froggy must leave to tend to his military responsibilities so in an attempt to help his shy friend, he tells Betty, the owner of the lodge that Charlie is from an exotic foreign country and neither speaks nor understands English. Through very little effort on his part, Charlie endears himself to almost everyone by being a good "listener", therefore, people relate their problems to him because he doesn't judge nor does he give advice. Because of Charlie's inability to speak, the other characters share secrets with him. And so the hilarity begins. Director Jim Sulanowski blocks his talented performers wonderfully in this madcap comic romp, eliciting topnotch performances from them.

The gorgeous rustic lodge set is by Kevin Boisse. The cast is lead by Chris Sabatino as Charlie Baker. He has splendid facial expressions and wonderful line deliveries with a British accent and in his made up foreign language. Blit is no and gock is yes. Charlie feels inadequate due to his wife's 23 affairs but his time in Georgia helps him overcome his doubts and he becomes a hero, too. Chris' interactions with the other characters is wonderful as he helps a dimwitted boy win his inheritance, brings adventure to an older lady stuck in this backwards town, helps a pregnant woman escape the clutches of her awful boyfriend, taunts her beau and his horrible red neck pal in his own gibberish. His red riding hood tale has to be seen to be believed. It stops the show with its merriment. Blasny to Chris on an excellent job in this demanding role.

Charlie's friend, Froggy is marvelously played by Kevin Fish. He makes the bombastic, heavy drinking British soldier come to life. Kevin displays his frustration trying to get Charlie to be more sociable and turns on a dime when he concocts the foreigner story to bolster Betty up. Froggy can't believe Charlie fooled all the people with his shenanigans but finally supplies the turn of events to make Charlie and his three new friends very happy. Heather Carey is a hoot as Betty Meeks who yells constantly at Charlie as if he is deaf. She misconstrues almost everything Charlie says, forcing him to keep a glass on his head, thinking there is a tractor in his red riding hood story and thinking he wants her to play the harmonica for him. Heather excels at comic roles and this is one more feather in her cap.

Katherine Coolidge plays Catherine Simms beautifully. The character is a former debutante whose father left her a huge inheritance and is bitchy and unhappy during the first act. She's unhappy because she's pregnant but mellows out in the second act due to Charlie's sympathetic and understanding nature, becoming enamored of him. Her dimwitted brother, Ellard is excellently played by Michael Shallcross. He is another scene stealer, clad in overalls with a bib and wild hair. Ellard turns out to be smarter than anyone thinks especially when he finds a croquet mallet. He acts like King Buddy who Charlie has encouraged to give Ellard a backbone to stand up to the Klan when they descend upon the lodge. Michael's eating and drinking scenes and naming of objects inside and outside of the lodge with their Southern English definitions are laugh out loud moments.

Joe Livingston tackles the role of a cad, David who is a minister engaged to Catherine. However things seem to be too good to be true as Charlie witnesses the exchange between David and Owen, discovering their true motives toward Betty, Catherine and Ellard. Joe's acting is wonderful as this smarmy character and the audience enjoys when David receives his comeuppance for his miserable behavior. Last but not least is Jason Arundale who plays Owen Musser, the nastiest villains in this show as he takes advantage of an old woman and tries to kill Charlie because he is a foreigner. Jason spouts awful and racist dialogue at Charlie and the others. However the comic moments help to temper it as he gets the crap scared out of him and the Ku Klux Klan. A huge boo and hiss to Joe and Jason for being horrible villains but excelling in their roles while doing so. So for a trip back to Georgia, be sure to catch this wild and crazy farce, "The Foreigner" at Attleboro Community Theatre. The cast and crews expertise wins them a standing ovation at a job very well done.

"The Foreigner" (13 - 29 March)
@ 71 North Main Street, ATTLEBORO MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide