Through May 20|
THE FOREIGNER Kavinoky Theatre
Every play has some must-haves, a particular performer, musicians, a piece of stage machinery, even a couple of doors.
Larry Shue’s “The Foreigner” really requires one thing, an actor who can handle the role of Charlie, the one-time British military officer who seems to be having a nervous breakdown when a serving soldier brings him along on a trip to a remote Georgia hunting lodge.
Froggy LeSueur decides he will help Charlie by telling the people in this lodge the man can’t speak English and everything afterwards spins off that claim.
The rest is gloss, but it’s essential that the actor playing Charlie is a nut job, or at least can act like one and Craig can.
He’s a familiar figure on local stages and will be in “King Lear” with Shakespeare in Delaware Park this summer, as The Fool.
Director David Oliver has set an acrobatic, athletic gibberish performance for Craig, as the fiction that he doesn’t speak English turns him into the person no one notices in the room as they discuss plans, loves and schemes.
He’s really wonderful.
Oliver sent to school and worked in England and may understand the role of the straying foreigner better than most.
This David King set looks like the prior season production of “The Lion in Winter,” lots of stone, giant fireplace, giant windows and lots and lots of wood.
There are also a couple of deer heads with antlers mounted high on the wall.
Shue gets into the story so quickly, the other characters are never fully fleshed out, lodge owner and Froggy friend Betty Meeks (Anne Gayley), Rev. David Marshall Lee (Christopher Evans), Catherine Simms (Aleks Malejs), brother Ellard Simms (Dan Urtz) and Owen Musser (David Mitchell).
The Rev and Catherine are an item and she loves him and he loves her money, something which becomes much more complicated when she tells him she’s pregnant, well in advance of the money.
Because everyone believes Charlie is an ignorant foreigner who doesn’t speak English, he knows a lot more about what’s going on than Rev. David and Musser realize.
With the right cast, this is a really funny show, one much more pointed in these times than perhaps long-dead playwright Shue realized when he wrote it three decades ago, although some attitudes haven’t changed and the values group at the heart of the play is still around.
The laughs are certainly in some different places than when I’ve seen it before.
Good triumphs and evil succumbs and some things are left for the future.
“The Foreigner” is a show which benefits from a dynamite performance by Craig and some strong directing from Oliver.
It also benefits from the rest of the cast, particularly Urtz and Mitchell, and King’s set.
That’s why Charlie’s character and performance is so worth seeing.
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