By Larry Shue
Richardson Theatre Centre
Director – Rachael Lindley
Stage Manager – Courtney Walsh
Set Design – Jason Dixon
Scenic Design – Helena Magee
Sound Design – Richard Stephens, Sr.
Light Design – Wyatt Moore
Costumes, Props – Cast and Crew
Artistic Director – Rachael Lindley
Executive Director – Lise Alexander
Technical Director – Richard Stephens, Sr.
Charlie Baker: John Floyd
S/Sgt. “Froggy” Lesueur: Anthony Magee
Betty Meeks: Deborah Key
Rev. David Marshall Lee: Jay Laengrich
Catherine Simms: Courtney Turner
Ellard Simms: Gustavo Rodriguez
Owen Musser: Shawn Patrello
Reviewed Performance: 7/20/2019
Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
This uproariously funny show was written by American playwright Larry Shue and premiered off-Broadway a year before Shue’s untimely death. It centers on Charlie Baker, a shy British proofreader, who is on a weekend holiday at a fishing lodge in Georgia. In an attempt to give Baker some peace and quiet, his friend “Froggy” tells the lodge owner he doesn’t speak a word of English. This plan backfires, however, when the other characters feel free to speak candidly in front of him since he “doesn’t understand”. The ensuing comedy of errors is hilarity at its finest.
Jason Dixon and Helena Magee’s set was almost perfect. It contained enough detail to be realistic, but not so much as to be distracting. During preshow and intermission I kept finding new and interesting details, including a bicycle-riding frog and other whimsical pieces. I would have liked to have seen a mounted fish in this fishing lodge, but there was plenty of other set dressing to make up for the lack of trophies. Costumes and props were also well-designed, perfect to fill the appropriate voids, but not confusing during the show.
Richard Stephens’ sound design and Wyatt Moore’s light design were both well done. There were no shadows or dark spots, and the sound seemed to flow naturally with the action. When special effects were needed, they were appropriate and timely. The selection of pre-show and intermission music was charming.
As Charlie Baker, John Floyd stole the show. His “foreign language” dialogue and numerous wordless expressions were a difficult combination to master, but master them he did. He was just awkward enough to gain sympathy from the audience, but witty enough to be successful against the evil that is revealed throughout the show. Floyd’s pantomime had me almost falling out of my seat with laughter.
Courtney Turner’s portrayal of Catherine Simms was delightful, with her cute-as-a-button appearance, southern bell attitude and kind heart. She and Floyd worked well enough together they looked like naturals.
As Betty Meeks, Deborah Key was a perfect motherly hostess. She was caring, doting and unintentionally funny all at once. Her friend Froggy, played by Anthony Magee, was friendly and caring with a mischievous streak.
Gustavo Rodriguez, as Ellard Simms, was beautifully believable as Catherine’s slow-witted younger brother. It wasn’t clear exactly what was “wrong” with Ellard, but as the action progressed, it was discovered that he wasn’t as dim as originally thought. His friendship with Charlie was instrumental in furthering the plot.
Rev. David Marshall Lee, played by Jay Laengrich, was fabulous. He mastered the art of deceitful charm, and had everyone fooled except Charlie. When his true colors were revealed, I was actually disappointed because he had seemed so nice.
Shawn Patrello was a little too believable portraying Owen Musser, with his racist good-old-boy personality, and obvious discomfort with having a “foreigner” at the lodge. When he was scared off at the end, I wanted to applaud.
Overall, the play was quite entertaining. I definitely recommend this show. You won’t be disappointed.
The Foreigner runs through August 4 at Richardson Theatre Centre.
For tickets and information go to www.RichardsonTheatreCentre.net or call 972-699-1130.