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STAGE REVIEW 'Foreigner' delights with wackiness



Published: Sat, May 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



An outrageously funny plan to deceive turns a wacky, chaotic vacation into an amusing story you will love.

BY MARGARET NERY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

SALEM -- "The Foreigner" came to Salem Community Theatre on Friday night and managed to confuse and amuse the audience, proving once again that comedy is a universal language.

Written by Larry Shue and directed by Dave Wack, the production was a gem of a farce based on an outrageous plan to deceive that had some unexpected, but thoroughly entertaining, repercussions.

Core of the plot

At the center of this wacky plot is a painfully shy and admittedly boring Englishman named Charlie Baker (played to perfection by Terry Shears). Unsure of himself but wanting to be accepted, he develops an alter ego of himself.

With the help of his good friend, Froggy (the amusing Dick Fawcett) he is able to assume the guise of a foreigner from some exotic country. Hiding behind the false facade he no longer feels self-conscious as he begins a vacation with others at a guest lodge in rural Georgia.

However, his deception does complicate matters. Because others at the lodge presume he doesn't understand a word of English, they speak freely in his presence about personal secrets and even discuss covert plans.

Little did Charlie know that the acquired language barrier would allow him to eavesdrop on their conversations and make him privy to secretive information.

Warmhearted

But he is accepted for what he is, or seems to be, by the lodge owner, Betty Meeks (played by the delightful Vicki Rossi, who never once loses her hillbilly accent and lovable attitude).

Also at the lodge is Catherine Simms (Deneen Green the fun-loving poor little rich girl) who has loads of money and the apparent affection of the Rev. David Marshall Lee (Roger Gaskins). The devious reverend avows that "God helps him who helps himself," and he intends to help himself to Catherine's money.

His partner in crime is a sleazy redneck, Owen Musser (C. Richard Haldi) who turns out to be quite obnoxious. He threatens to take over the lodge and to drive all foreigners out of the country.

As Charlie unwittingly becomes privy to the most intimate thoughts of others in the lodge, he is taken under the wing of Catherine's brother, the slow-witted Ellard Simms (David B. Hazen, who is a joy to behold). The unlikely pair bond, and in their attempt to teach each other, they prove that comedy works in any language.

The hero

While Charlie listens and learns he soundlessly proves that actions speak louder than words as he manages to expose the money-grabbing preacher, saves Ellard's inheritance and hoodwinks the "sheet headed" Klan members who invade the lodge.

In the process he even acquires a lovable personality and with a little luck, gets the girl.

The quirky caper is filled with humor and ample doses of wacky frivolity. However, it is the true-to-life setting, amusing plot and uninhibited performances by an exceptional cast that make you enjoy getting acquainted with "The Foreigner."




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