Theatre Review: ‘The Foreigner’ at Kavinoky Theatre

The cast of “The Foreigner” at Kavinoky Theatre.

The Kavinoky Theatre at D’Youville College is currently presenting the award winning comedy, “The Foreigner” by Larry Shue.

. . . a cast of wonderful actors.

This modern day farce takes place at a fishing lodge in the backwoods of Georgia. The play centers around introverted Charlie, one of the guests at the lodge. In order to avoid verbal contact with others, Charlie pretends to be a foreigner who doesn’t understand English. This pretense leads to wacky situations and misunderstandings.

Kevin Craig is riveting in the central role of Charlie. His face is expressive throughout, and the proceedings are particularly delightful when Charlie is being zany and coming out of his shell.

The rest of the cast is equally terrific. Patrick Moltane is commanding as Charlie’s friend, and Anne Gayley lights up the stage as the big-hearted owner of the lodge. Christopher Evans is appropriately smarmy as a gas lighting preacher, and Aleks Malejs gives a strong performance as an embittered former southern belle. Rounding out the cast are two WNY actors who can always be counted on to deliver the goods — Dan Urtz who is endearing as the much maligned Ellard and David Mitchell who is marvelously malicious as Owen, a despicable xenophobe.

Direction by David Oliver is smooth and eminently competent but not inspired. Missing are the inventive touches that make a farce soar. There were a few of these moments – jumping onto the sofa, lying on the table with feet in the air. We needed more. This play calls for off beat physical humor. Without it, the result is chuckles where there could have been big laughs.

Sensibilities have changed considerably since “The Foreigner” was written 30 years ago. Because of all the racism we’ve been hearing about in the news lately, when Owen and his gang flood the stage in their full regalia, the effect is jarring. It’s hard to take this scene in the light-hearted manner in which the author intended.

Production values throughout are high and the gorgeous, well detailed fishing lodge set by David King with dressing by Diane Almeter Jones is especially impressive.

Although this is a longish production with direction veering towards the realistic instead of the comic, “The Foreigner” at the Kavinoky certainly makes for a pleasant evening and has a cast of wonderful actors.

Running Time: 2 Hours with a 15 minute intermission.

“The Foreigner” runs until May 20, 2018 and is presented at The Kavinoky Theatre. For more information, click here.