Review by Emilee Hatfield
In this day and time being a Foreigner can take on many meanings. Whether you are the Foreigner in a country, a new school or in a new town. It can even go to the extent that you are a Foreigner of theatre. I can say on many occasions I have felt this unnerving, intimidating feeling that would wrap it’s coils around rendering me speechless. This leads to me wishing that I was invisible.
This very feeling is what brings about the hilarity, and unique charm within the Arvada Center’s production of, “The Foreigner,” which opened on Friday October 13th. Upon entry I was very opened minded about this show and knew little to nothing about it. Honestly I believe that is the best way to go when attending. What I believed was going to be a simple play turned into a night of nonstop laughs.
The set brings you instantly into a quaint little home, designed by Brain Mallgrave. Its attention to detail did feel as if you were really in the South along with the accompaniment of some bluegrass music that plays in between scenes. This captures the fish out of water tone that slowly morphs into that warming innocences that only southern comfort can give.
What this production directed by Geoffrey Kent does so well is that the material is carried in a very human way while blending with Kent’s own originality. This comedy takes a very unexpected turn, something upon which I will not reveal in order to not ruin the play. But they go at it with such great comedic timing along with an ensemble of great characters lead by Sammie Joe Kinnett in the title role that just… works.
The play follows Charlie Baker, a Brit that has traveled along with his friend Sgt. “Froggy” LeSueur in order to get his mind off of being told his wife has only six months to live. Being a naturally nervous human being Charlie is terrified at the thought of holding a conversation with someone, especially strangers. Leaving Froggy to come up with a solution in order to ensure that no one speaks to him. During a conversation with Betty, the owner of the fishing lodge that Charlie will be staying at, Froggy finds the answer right in front of his face. “He is a foreigner. He doesn’t speak any English.” It is then that the play takes its hilarious turn. As Charlie goes along with this lie the rest of the lodge's guests begin to confide their secrets and feelings with a man they believe cannot understand a word they say.
This play is brilliant with its undertones and lessons that the director did not make them seem forced. Instead he allows them to gently pass by allowing you to think before you find yourself trying not to bust a gut laughing.
The funny situations and masterful performances by the entire cast on stage creates a stressless night of wild entertainment. While Sammie Joe Kinnett defiantly carries the show tremendously, I have to say the stand out for me was Jessica Robblee in the role of Catherine. Her accent was on par and her bubbly and dramatic acting balances perfectly with Kinnett’s shy Charlie. It creates chemistry that you just find adorable, but also very human. That’s what I think this production blossomed into without realization. Each actor you could tell put their own flavor into the mix giving room for the characters to grow. No, none of these characters are perfect and that is the best part about it I believe. A large situation is solved but many of their smaller personal issues are left undone, giving way to the humanistic reality of what we go through. At the end of the day not everything is solved, and that was wildly refreshing to see.
Overall I lost track at how many times I found myself smiling while watching this production. It’s interesting to say I could find my own foreignness within the world of plays melting away before my eyes. I am a very frequent musical goer however plays never really seem to take hold of my interest in order to see them. It was that fearful unfamiliarity that as I said in beginning kept me from stepping forward. But just as Charlie begins to find his uncharacteristic shyness dwindling away within the non-English speaking persona he has created, so was mine. The characters are very wonderful to watch, the lines are quick, witty; and left with the cleverness of mixing a fake culture with Southern Hospitality.
This is the second show I have seen at the Arvada Center and the first of its Black Box season and truth to be told it did not disappoint. The Foreigner is a great play that will allow you to realize that even the most timid person has more than you would expect. They just need the right opportunity to allowing it to be seen. And as Charlie would say, “Blasney Blasney,”
The Foreigner plays at the Arvada Center for Performing Arts from October 13- Nov 18th. Tickets can be purchased at http://arvadacenter.org/subscriptions/20172018/TheForeigner.html or by calling (720) 898-7200