As Dave Williams, president of the Langley Players drama club, walks a visitor through the plot of “The Foreigner,” their new production that runs from Jan. 24 to Feb. 25, he accidentally divulges a major plot point.
It is a big twist that might spoil the experience for theatregoers were it to appear in a newspaper and a few people in the theatre actually gasp at the revelation.
Suffice it to say, it’s big.
It will not, however, spoil anything to reveal the play is about a pathologically shy young man named Charlie Baker who is overcome by anxiety whenever he meets new people.
When a friend takes him to a fishing lodge in the deep south of the U.S. for a holiday, everyone at the lodge is told that Charlie is a ‘foreigner’ who doesn’t speak any English, to help him with his anxiety.
Because the people at the lodge don’t think he understands what they’re saying, Charlie overhears many damaging revelations.
Williams says the play, first produced in 1984, resonates with modern-day issues, in particular in the U.S.
“Some of the content is really relevant today with what is happening south of the border,” Williams says.
“But this is one where good triumphs over evil.”
It is also “farcical,” and “hilariously funny” he assures the visitor.
“This is a play you will be laughing about, and talking about, long after you’ve left the theatre,” director Helen Embury, an Abbotsford resident, says.
“I was drawn to this play because of its laugh-out-loud humour, clearly recognizable character types and its timeliness.”
The producer is T.J. MacPherson, who lives in Maple Ridge.
Maple Ridge actor Paul Beckett plays Charlie Baker.
Maple Ridge actor Brian Johnston plays Charlie’s friend “Froggy” LeSueur.
Judith Betzler (who plays Betty Meeks) is from Maple Ridge.
Emily Wheeler (Catherine Simms) is from Surrey.
Shane Rochon (Ellard Simms) is from Cloverdale.
Langley actors Michael Powell plays Owen Musser, a county property inspector who has been threatening to condemn the lodge, and Philip Hale, is the Rev. David Marshall Lee, who wants to buy the lodge at a bargain price.
The original 1984 production of the The Foreigner by playwright Larry Shue, with Shue playing the part of Charlie’s friend, won two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards as Best New American Play and Best Off-Broadway Production.
It has been revived many times since then.
A Los Angeles Times review of a one production said the play is so frequently performed is “because it’s one of the few modern comedies that remains true to human nature despite its absurd excesses. Another reason is that it’s outrageously funny.”
The Langley version of The Foreigner is scheduled to run Thursdays to Sundays from Jan. 25 to Feb. 24 in the Langley Playhouse at 4307 200 Street in Brookswood. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Additional performances have been added on Wednesday, Feb. 14, Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for all performances except for the preview-night performances on Thursday, Jan. 25 and Friday, Jan. 26 when the ticket price drops to $10. For the two preview nights, season pass holders are entitled to bring a guest for free but must be sure to reserve for two people.