Catherine Simms (Mallory James) tells her troubles to The Foreigner, Charlie Baker (Kirk Smith), but he’s not sure he wants to hear it all. The production continues at the Chemainus Theatre through May 9. (Lexi Bainas/Black Press)

REVIEW: Once ‘The Foreigner’ arrives, everything changes

Funny and touching, Chemainus Theatre’s new play will leave you in stitches

By Lexi Bainas

Black Press

The Chemainus Theatre has a sure hit on its hands with its presentation of Larry Shue’s The Foreigner.

This hilarious show only runs until May 9 so if you want to join the fun you need to book those seats today.

The whole premise of the play is daft: arrived at a small hotel in up-country Georgia, an English man tries to help the shy friend he’s brought with him by telling the staff that his pal is foreign and can’t speak a word of English. The very idea of a foreigner in their midst causes the yokels to ooh and aah and that’s all it takes to hit the road to funny town.

There’s not one weak link among this great cast. Led by Kirk Smith as Charlie Baker the Foreigner, it includes Michelle Lieffertz as Betty Meeks the hotel owner, Sheldon Graham as Rev. David Marshall Lee, Mallory James as his rich fiancée, Catherine Simms; Nathan Kay as her dim-witted brother, Ellard Simms; Paul Herbert as Charlie’s pal, “Froggy” LeSueur, and Brett Harris as the bully, Owen Musser.

Lieffertz and Kay are genuine hicks from the sticks; Graham manages, without being one bit obvious, to let the audience know his character is not a nice man; Harris is the true bully: a chicken underneath his bluster; James is desperate, now that she’s got trouble on her hands, and Herbert skillfully moves the plot along whenever he’s onstage.

They click together like Lego blocks, making for a solid, seamless show that’s hilarious from beginning to end. Audiences will find, though, that the first act sets up the second, so expect things you see in Act 1 to pay off later.

There’s plenty of visual comedy and silly comments to bring on the belly laughs, but there are also tender moments and some downright scary scenes. It’s no wonder this play has been a favourite with actors and audiences alike since its debut in 1984.

Go online to chemainustheatre.ca or call 1-800-565-7738 to book your tickets for The Foreigner.

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