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'The Foreigner' guarantees to lift the winter blues
Charlie Baker (Erik Gratton) is pretty down-trodden at the start of "The Foreigner" now playing at Village Theatre. He is a cuckold husband (23 times he points out) who still loves his wife, but believes she is dying. Charlie thinks he has no personality, and is the most boring person alive.
His buddy, Froggy LeSueur (Patrick Phillips) decides that a few days at a fishing lodge in Georgia is just what Charlie needs to get some peace and quiet.
The stage is set for a hilarious misadventure that transforms Charlie from shy and retiring to the center of attention.
Not wanting to talk to or interact with the other guests – brother and sister Catherine and Ellard Simms, played by Angela DiMarco and Anthony Lee respectively; Rev. David Marshall Lee, played by Jonathan Crimeni; and the innkeeper Betty Meeks, played by Sharva Maynard, Froggy comes up with the idea that Charlie is a foreigner who cannot speaking a word of English.
Betty is thrilled to have this exotic "foreigner" at her small lodge, breaking up the monotony of her otherwise vanilla life.
At first Charlie absolutely refuses to take part in the ruse, until he accidentally overhears a personal conversation between Catherine and David, who are engaged.
Gratton, as Charlie, is priceless. Not speaking much at all throughout the first act, he must rely on his facial expressions and body language to convey his message. His eyes grow wide, he slumps in his chair, and when addressed by anyone as Charlie, he pats his upper chest in a gesture so endearing yet funny you can't help but laugh every time he does it.
Ellard (Phillips) is hysterical as the dimwitted brother of sweet, former debutante Catherine. Charlie picks up on David's constant undermining of Ellard, trying to convince everyone that Ellard is incompetent to handle $112,000 he is due to inherit. David wants all the money once he and Catherine are wed. So, Charlie asks Ellard to "teach" him to speak English. With the southern inflection – lamp is two syllables for example pronounced lam-puh – each English lesson is side-splitting funny.
Meantime, Catharine, who is ignored by David, grows fond of Charlie because he's such a good listener, so she pours her heart out to him, not thinking he understands a word. Betty (Maynard) dotes on Charlie, and thinks by yelling at him up close, he'll understand her.
Rounding out the cast is Eric Ray Anderson as Owen Musser, a redneck good-ol'-boy, who is rude and obnoxious to Charlie from the moment he lays eyes on him. Owen clearly doesn't like a foreigner in his parts. Owen and David are up to no good, and Charlie is on to them much sooner than they think, and is able to use his status as a foreigner to his advantage to put them in their place.
The variety of accents and physical humor by Gratton are gut-busting funny. A recent transplant to Seattle from New York, Gratton has performed all over the country in new plays and many of Shakespeare's most fun roles. He is a gifted comedic actor.
The set, a log-sided fishing lodge, is very authentic, with lighting and a few special effects that work in just the right places.
"The Foreigner" was written by the late Larry Shue. Following a record-breaking run of 700 performances at New York's Astor Place theatre, it has been produced successfully internationally.
"The Foreigner" will continue at Village Theatre through March 2, before beginning a run at the Everett playhouse through March 30.
For tickets visit www.villagetheatre.org.
Charlie (Erik Gratton) slumps down in his chair as he accidentally overhears a personal conversation between David (Jonathan Crimeni) and Catherine (Angela DiMarco). COURTESY PHOTO © 2014 Tracy Martin. Property of Village Theatre.
Charlie (Erik Gratton) and Betty (Sharva Maynard) are tangled in the telephone cord. COURTESY PHOTO © 2014 Tracy Martin. Property of Village Theatre.
Charlie (Erik Gratton) reacts with one of his many hilarious facial expressions. COURTESY PHOTO © 2014 Tracy Martin. Property of Village Theatre.