August 27, 2014

‘The Foreigner’: Fun at Clockwork Theatre

Some people simply don’t like talking. They don’t like chit-chat and they prefer to be left alone. Charlie is like that. His wife is seriously ill in the hospital and though he hates to leave her, his good friend Froggy and his wife insist that Charlie take a break and relax.

Froggy takes him to a cabin and inn owned by Betty, but Charlie doesn’t want to talk to anyone. He just wants to be left alone. Therefore, Froggy tells Betty that Charlie can’t understand a word of English and that he should not be bothered because he gets embarrassed if people talk to him and he doesn’t understand them. Of course, this prompts much excitement from the owner, who has never left her backwoods cabin. The guests and visitors either taunt or treasure Charlie’s quietness.

The first time I saw “The Foreigner” by Larry Shue, I laughed so hard that I cried. However, since then I have seen other productions of this show that did not fare as well. The success of this play depends heavily on comic timing, pace, and cast. The Clockwork Repertory Theater in Oakville definitely has the cast, but the comic timing and pace were off enough in the first act to draw less laughter than the show deserves. The second act, however, made up for the first. That’s when everything fell into place. The pace picked up, the comic timing was perfect, and the audience howled. 

John Fabiani as Charlie couldn’t have been better cast in this role. He also has a lot to do with the pace and comic timing in the second act, where Charlie gets to let loose with all sorts of wild antics. Joe Stofko as Froggy also comes into his own in the second act, when his facial expressions add to the comedy. Betty, played by Kate Costello, gives a darn good performance, especially when she picks up the pace and is less loud.

Mitch Friedman as Reverend David is always on his game. His performance here is no exception. Meghan Magner as the Reverend’s intended, makes a smooth transition from the fast-talking spoiled Southern belle to the more audible and kind woman.

Adam Dudkiewicz plays Owen, a gruff and tough member of the KKK, and adds a lot of comedy with his performance. Because Adam plays the part as an ignorant, but self-aggrandized man, he is able to turn his character into a buffoon. Patrick Donahue rounds off the cast nicely with his performance as Ellard, a rather dim-witted, but kind young man. 

There’s plenty of comedy and lots of laughter in this production, directed by William Wilson. Harold J. Pantely’s set design is as functional as it is appropriate with its backwoods décor and John Mangiapane’s “special costumes” are frightfully on target. 

Overall, this is a fine community theater production of a fun show. It plays through Dec. 1. Box office: 860- 274-7247; clockworkrep.com. Located off of Route 8, Clockwork Repertory Theatre is easy to reach and has plenty of parking. 

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers art and culture in a blog for CBS National and CBS-CT.  She welcomes comments. Contact: jgrochman@gmail.com.