‘Foreigner’ is hilariously clever | Theater review
“The Foreigner” is one of the funniest, wittiest and strangely uplifting comedies I’ve seen in a long time. The Village Theatre production opened March 7.
The story centers around a nervous man named Charlie. He’s incapable of having a normal conversation without freezing up. He fears that he is boring.
He goes on a much needed vacation to a fishing lodge in Georgia to enjoy the fresh air and solitude. He’s been brought there by his best friend, nicknamed Froggy.
Froggy can’t stay, but tries his best to make his friend’s vacation easier.
Since Charlie is always scared to open his mouth and doesn’t want to be bothered, Froggy tells the inn-keeper Betty, that her new guest doesn’t speak English. That way, no one will be pressuring him to talk or even be interesting.
That should work right? Wrong!
Betty is fascinated by having a ‘foreigner’ at her lodge. Charlie plays the game without saying anything for a while. Soon he’s inventing words and rituals.
He also catches on to people’s secrets because they feel free to talk about private matters in his presence.
Charlie slowly comes out of his shell and develops a personality.
One of the things he learns is that one of the other guests’ slow brother Ellard is being ‘gas-lighted’ by her fiancé David. He instructs him to do something, and then denies saying it.
David does offensive things in the lodge that poor Ellard gets blamed for. The purpose is to make Ellard look ‘stupid’ so that David can get a hold of even more of his intended’s money.
And who is this cruel David? He claims to be a reverend, which is doubtful. What’s even worse is he’s trying to get a hold of the fishing lodge to use for something truly horrible.
The casting in this show is perfect. The undisputed star is Erik Gratton. At first, Gratton plays Charlie as though he’s a block of wood. But gradually his silent pantomime performance moves into complete hilarity as he tells a whole story with fake words. He expresses such fun and joy, that we can’t help but envy him.
The fascinated inn-keeper Betty is played by Sharva Maynard. You may recognize her as Aunt Eller from Village Theater’s production of “Oklahoma.”
Anthony Lee Phillips has a very hard acting assignment as Ellard. He’s a little on the slow side, but never makes fun of his IQ. His childlike innocence and eagerness to please is very endearing.
Taylor Neimeyer plays Ellard’s older sister, Catherine. She’s completely in the dark about her fiancé’s intentions. She’s been in a number of Village Theatre’s productions.
Making his Village Theatre debut is Jonathan Crimeni as the deceitful David. He’s nothing less than convincingly vicious.
Eric Ray Anderson plays David’s partner in slime, Owen. He’s a hick with a hot temper and intolerance.
And last but far from least is Patrick Phillips as Charlie’s well-meaning friend who sets it all in motion. His accent is barely understandable, which adds to the humor. He too is new to the scene.
Don’t miss this hilarious show.
“The Foreigner” is playing at the Everett Performing Arts Center now through March 30. For ticket information call, 425-257-8600.