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Play “The Foreigner” by Larry Shue Summary

  • Updated July 27, 2023
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On December 7th 2018, I went and saw the play The Foreigner at the State College of Florida Neel Performing Arts Center. The tickets were fifteen dollars each and the play started at 8pm. The play was written by American playwright Larry Shue and is a two-act comedy that has won several awards over its time being shown. These awards include two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards. One was presented as the Best American Play and the other as Best-Off Broadway Production. On top of this, the play was directed by Dean Anthony who portrayed the play perfectly as the hilarious farce it is.

Moreover, the goal of the production is to simply act as a comedy and please the audience members in attendance. I thoroughly enjoyed the play due to its comedic factor and I believe that the actors did a very good job at conveying it in this way. It is crucial that the actors attempt to do their best and relate to the audience in a way that makes them understand the plot of the play and this was something I believed the actors achieved in an extremely effective way. It is made a point throughout the play that each character is seeking to accomplish something, but seems to have a road block in their way of doing so. The tone of the play is very optimistic and focuses around the idea that you can achieve anything if you truly put your mind to it.

The Foreigner is set in rural Georgia and depicts the story of a shy and depressed Englishman by the name of Charlie Baker, who has recently been forced to visit a fishing lodge to get his mind off of his ill wife who is currently in the hospital. The lodge is owned by the widow, Betty Meeks, and she is accompanied by her long-time guests Ellard and Catherine Simms, the Reverend David Lee, and the Tilghman county property inspector, Owen Musser.

The settlement also includes a British military demolitions expert by the name of Froggy Lesueur who from time to time will conduct field operations near the area. Froggy is close friends with Charlie and he aids him in the process of avoiding all other guests at the lodge throughout the time he is to stay there. Charlie seeks relaxation while in this trip and receives nothing, but anxiety along the way. This ultimately leads to the conflict of the play where Froggy decides to scheme a plan in order to relieve Charlie of his stress. Froggy then proceeds to tell Betty that Charlie is from a foreign country and does not speak a word of English. Unfortunately, because of Betty’s interest in foreign culture, she does her best in trying to talk to Charlie.

Interestingly enough, this is the point in the play where the comedic side truly shows its way. Charlie is determined to play the role of a foreign man and because of this, he is continuously faced with dilemmas that cause him to become more uncomfortable than before. He eventually overhears a secret that Catherine is pregnant with Reverend Lee’s child. Furthermore, the rising action develops as Owen and David plan to get rid of Betty through use of condemning the home due to the faults in the foundation. Charlie decides to help Ellard and shows him how construction workers build and fix foundation in order for him to do it by himself. Several other situations occur that add on to the comedic style of the play such as when the Klan is convinced that Charlie has supernatural powers.

Additionally, the climax of the play takes place as Charlie helps Catherine, Betty, and Ellard defeat the KKK and save the lodge from begin taken. Charlie appears to be relieved of his anxiety while still maintaining the persona of an unknowing foreign man. It is not until the falling action of the play that we discover that David is actually one of the Klansmen and was scheming against Betty’s lodge the entire time. Lastly, Charlie learns news that his wife has left him for her doctor and that Catherine has kicked David out of the lodge. The two decide to stay with Betty in the lodge and live their lives with a new-found sense of freedom.

Next, I strongly believe the production of the play was conducted very well. The costumes and overall design of the play suited the comedic style perfectly. The use of lighting to separate key characters during important scenes allowed for easy focus from the audience. To add on to, the costumes were designed with a goal in to mind to stick the comedic style of the play. After all, the theme of the play is self-discovery and costumes have a lot to do with that. Each character had a unique costume that fit their role and allowed for them to stand out from the rest. The audience experiences many different changes in emotion from scene to scene and the lighting does a great job at accenting the transitions. The lights would dim at more serious points in the play and lighten as comedic scenes took place. Overall, it is a very fast paced tempo play that shows to have something always happening right after the last event took place. This helps the tempo of the play and adds excitement to the audience as they are always waiting for the next thing to happen.

All in all, I thoroughly believe the play was worth doing and it was very fun to watch. I also think that the play did in fact reach its goal of being comedic and portraying the idea that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Charlie was able to seek out his relaxation and eventually even turn it into satisfaction by way of his new-found connections. Ellard learns that she is capable of many things and Catherine learns that she needs to open up to other people. Betty also faces the realization that she can allow others to help her if she needs it and to not attempt everything on her own. I definitely recommend this play to other patrons as they will not be let down by the amazing experience and enjoyable comedic playstyle.

References

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Play “The Foreigner” by Larry Shue Summary. (2021, Jul 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/play-the-foreigner-by-larry-shue/

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