By Germaine Hupe
“The Foreigner,” a comedy with the message that “good always triumphs over evil, but let’s have fun along the way,” will be presented by the Winters Theatre Company in six performances April 1-10.
The play pokes gentle fun at the naïveté of rural Southerners, but makes some of them the heroes and heroines. It is set in a fishing lodge in the Georgia hills, and Betty, the lodge’s owner, a sweet, elderly widow, bemoans the fact that she has never traveled or even met any interesting foreigners.
Into the lodge come two Englishmen, Froggy LeSueur and his buddy Charlie Baker. Charlie is deeply depressed; his marriage is on the rocks and his life is on a downhill course, so he doesn’t want to talk about it. Through a series of misunderstandings, everyone assumes that Charlie’s native country is an obscure, unnamed nation and that Charlie can’t speak English.
Several cast members are harboring guilty secrets and decide to pour out their hearts to Charlie, thinking that although he doesn’t understand them, he is a good listener. Consequently, Charlie learns that the Klan is being revived and certain KKK leaders are planning to cheat Betty out of her lodge and life savings. The local Klan leader, Owen Musser, is a racist who makes the term redneck seem an understatement.
Owen, who fancies himself very witty, delights in tormenting the “stupid furrener,” but Charlie turns the tables in a hilarious scene, and Owen and his Klan buddies are thwarted in their criminal activities.
Charlie learns other secrets as well. In fact, few characters are what they initially seem to be. Catherine Simms, the former Atlanta debutante, is not the spoiled sophisticate she first appears. Her brother Ellard Simms, described as “slow, real slow,” has a shrewd intelligence nobody ever noticed before. The audience even begins to wonder if the Rev. David Marshall, professional good guy and servant to mankind, is really a credit to his clerical vocation.
One of the best monologues in modern comedy theater occurs when Charlie is forced to talk and must invent a story in his native tongue, a feat he manages in what could be described as “Danny Kaye” style.
It would spoil the fun if more plot twists and turns are divulged, but the audience is in for an evening of laughter as “The Foreigner” comes to the Winters Community Center stage.
Performances begin with a champagne gala on Friday, April 1, with special admission that night of $15. Additional evening performances will be Saturday, April 2, and Friday and Saturday, April 8-9. Two Sunday matinees, April 3 and 10, complete the schedule. The April 8 performance will be a benefit for the Winters History Project.
Tickets are $10 general and $6 for seniors and students, available at Pacific Ace Hardware, 35 Main St., and the Winters Chamber of Commerce, 11 Main St. Make reservations at (530) 795-4014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.