‘The Foreigner’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by August 2, 2018

‘The Foreigner’ is an exceptionally funny, light-hearted comedy written by Larry Shue, who was born in New Orleans at the end of World War 2, before sadly dying at the age 39 in a 14-seater, plane crash.

This play which won ‘Best New American Play’ and ‘Best Off-Broadway Production’ was presented just over two years ago by the Darlington Theatre Players Inc, in the Marloo Theatre and was a major hit. Now this delightful, two-hour and a quarter hour comedy is being presented by Serial Productions, at the heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road in South Perth.

The curtain goes up at 8.00 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until 18th August. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm on the 5th and 12th August.

On Saturday 4th August, 50 per cent of the proceeds will be generously donated to the WA Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation.

 

The scene: is a USA fishing lodge in rural Georgia during the 1980s.

This set: is another jaw-dropping production from the best set designer in the area – George Boyd. The stage at Marloo is a very wide one, so I was a little concerned as to how the spacious set could be transferred to The Old Mill. Simple! You just start again! Built by George, Brendan Tobin, the cast, and crew to the same design as before, everything has been fitted in. Working on a minimal budget we are presented with a panelled, lounge, a staircase, a brick chimney, a motel reception area and patio doors with rain lashing down outside. George never having been one to take the easy way out, he realises that a convincing set depends on the number and quality of the soft furnishings; there are numerous superb props to give that special touch of authenticity (Lesley Sutton, Ray Egan).

 The sound effects were crisp and perfectly operated by George Boyd. Several lighting effects, including a lightning storm, were cleverly designed by Shelly Miller then operated by Brendan Tobin. On the night I saw the show, the sound could have been turned off; the rain was bouncing off the theatre’s metal roof and a thunder clap shook the building. The audience were MOST impressed by the sound effects. There is an event at the end of the play in which the sound and lighting were particularly effective.

There were several unusual and special – to say the least – costumes required, and Marjorie De Caux was there as always.

 

       When English SAS trainer, Froggy Le Soeur (Ray Egan) is sent to America to teach an army course, he takes along his very shy and depressed friend, Charlie (Joe Isaia) who has marital problems. Being extremely nervous in company, Charlie is petrified to talk to anyone. 

      The two men arrive at Betty Meeks (Jacqui Warner – delightful) country fishing lodge. Betty’s motel is financially having a hard time, and despite the warm welcome, the guesthouse is looking rundown.

      To hide Charlie’s shyness, Froggy tells Betty that Charlie is a foreigner and cannot speak a word of English. Because of this ‘fake news’, whilst Charlie sits having an afternoon cup of tea, he hears the sordid ‘love secrets’ of the local vicar, David (Rodney Van Groningen) and his adoring fiancée, Catherine (Kylie Isaia). Before the end of the day, Charlie learns about almost all of the village scandals.

      Before long, Catherine’s retarded brother, Ellard (Steven Ozanne), begins teaching Charlie English. When a local redneck and con-man, Owen (Richard Hadler), an inbred thug who hates ‘outsiders’, hears about Charlie the foreigner, he is in major trouble.

 

The accomplished director, Robert Warner and his assistant Joe Isaia faced a major task putting on such an unusual style of comedy, but they have transferred their own warmth and humour into the already hilarious script.

The fabulous cast includes some of Community Theatre’s funniest actors; the chemistry between them was outstanding. The new addition to their cast is young Steven Ozanne, who proved his talent as a thug in KADS’s ‘The Return’, now excels here as an in-bred yokel.

Joe Isaia? What can one say, even the mention of his name brings a smile to everyone’s face. Joe’s routine of telling a joke in a non-existent, foreign language – filled with words like ‘perestroika’ and ‘Pravda’. His actions, body language and expressions were amazing.

The giggles poured out, with a couple of belly laughs a minute. There were no straight jokes, nor could it be described as a farce, and yet it was one of the funniest shows I have seen in months. Every actor was perfectly tuned in, with each giving a remarkable, full and well-observed performance. Superb teamwork.

This is a DON’T MISS production; this is the second time that I have seen this play and would happily see it again. A wacky comedy with clever plot twists that expose the foolishness of life. Hilarious from the opening minutes.