Though Larry Shue’s The Foreigner teeters on the morally obscene, it’s an absolute hoot … at times, to the point you may feel a little ashamed for laughing. But you’ll find a way to forgive yourself because it’s funny, just plain funny, and the cast of Pioneer Theatre Company’s production make it so.
The story takes place in 1980s Georgia. Shy, introverted Charlie Baker (a very comical Jim Wisniewski) reluctantly takes a vacation to a struggling fishing lodge run by Betty Meeks (Darrie Lawrence). Due to Charlie’s abundant shyness, his buddy Froggy (Max Robinson) creates a sham, one as to avoid attention by claiming Charlie to be a non-English speaking visitor from Nowhere, Anywhere.
Unfortunately for Charlie this doesn’t stop the other guests from social advances. In fact, they’re infatuated by his foreign-isms. Catherine Simms (Lauren Elise McCord), a nose-to-ceiling Southern debutante, at first, finds Charlie distasteful, but soon he becomes her noble confidante. Catherine’s half-wit brother Ellard (scene-stealer Michael Daniel Anderson) feels an intellectual connection to the foreigner. Catherine’s fiancée, Reverend David Marshall Lee (Christopher Kelly) and his backwoods soul-to-save Owen Musser (Jeremy Holm) neither trust nor like the foreigner, and plan on doing something about it.
Especially with today’s heated topic of immigration, Shue’s farce will get under your skin and occasionally make your head hot. Subject matter involving hatred, intolerance, white supremacy and ignorance, even in the smallest of doses are hard to swallow. And whether intentional or not, the “alien” pun is just in bad taste.
Yet, there’s real heart in The Foreigner. The bond that builds between Charlie and Ellard offers hope for a far less cruel world … a world where all people help each other, learn from each other and grow with each other. And maybe all it takes is humor to get us there.
The Foreigner runs through Dec. 22 at Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, UofU. Tickets $21-39, 581-6961 or pioneertheatre.org.