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2010-10-06 / Family

“The Foreigner” will have you laughing

REVIEW
By Joan Tupponce
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Ellard Simms (Jay Welch) (left) and Charlie (Richard Koch) in “The Foreigner” Photo courtesy of Swift Creek Mill Theatre Ellard Simms (Jay Welch) (left) and Charlie (Richard Koch) in “The Foreigner” Photo courtesy of Swift Creek Mill Theatre Swift Creek Mill Theatre’s newest offering, “The Foreigner,” takes a lighthearted look at how we relate to people of other nationalities.

In the play, the foreigner is Charlie, a timid, boring man, who wants nothing more than to be left alone while he spends a few days at Betty Meeks’ Fishing Lodge in Georgia. He’s traveled from London with his friend, Froggy, who concocts the story that Charlie doesn’t speak English as a way to keep people from talking to him. Because they don’t believe Charlie can understand what they are saying, the guests at the lodge spill their darkest secrets in front of him, which leads to a whirlwind of events.

Even though there are serious undertones in the play, especially at the end, most of the action is playful and at times almost vaudevillian. The first act builds slowly as it sets the tone of the play.

The cast works well as an ensemble, playing off of each other with relative ease. Standouts include Jay Welch as Ellard, the younger brother of Catherine who is set to marry the secretive Rev. Lee. Ellard is thought to be slow on the uptake but proves he’s smarter than people realize. Welch draws on that assumption to elicit laughs. He is at his best when he attempts to teach Charlie the English language.

Michelle Black is quite comfortable in her role as the naïve Betty Meeks. Bill Brock takes on the nasty Owen Musser with conviction. James Rees brings swagger to the role of Froggy, a demolitions expert. Sarah Legere, who plays Catherine, delivers a solid performance as does Jonathan Hardison who plays Rev. Lee.

In his role as Charlie, Richard Koch owns the stage. In much of the play he has to rely solely on facial expressions and gestures to generate laughs. He has great fun imitating Ellard’s every move at the breakfast table and blurting out gibberish disguised as a foreign language. His comic timing is spot on throughout the play.

Director and scenic designer Tom Width is to be commended for his detailed, realistic lodge design. Joe Doran’s lighting adds to the show’s realism.

“The Foreigner” is a fun evening with lots of hearty laughs. The show runs through Oct. 23. For tickets and information, call 748-5203 or go to www.swiftcreekmill.com.

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