What is going to happen next, the audience wonders when they see this. Little do they know. (Lexi Bainas photo0

Review: Polish your language skills with The Foreigner

It’s all gibberish, but Charlie Baker’s personality receives a revamp in Chemainus Theatre production

In the beginning, Charlie Baker (Kirk Smith) just wants to be left alone and not have to talk to anyone.

After inadvertently becoming The Foreigner through his friend Froggy LeSueur’s (Paul Herbert) bid to hide him away, the exact opposite happens in the end during the Chemainus Theatre production that’s on now until May 9.

The acting by the cast of The Foreigner is excellent, but Smith and Michelle Lieffertz (Betty) and James are particularly outstanding in their respective roles.

Smith’s deadpan expressions are great before he emerges out of his shell to speak gibberish so amazingly well; Lieffertz is just plain lovable as she goes about her business of maintaining the lodge;

Carrying out the charade of The Foreigner does drag down a few scenes, especially when Ellard (Nathan Kay) and Charlie spend considerable time identifying every object in the room during Charlie’s English lessons. But it all makes sense in the end of how this introverted individual becomes an unlikely social butterfly and saviour.

Charlie’s newly-created language becomes somewhat contagious. People were leaving the theatre firing off some of his catchiest expressions, both in English and in the other concocted language.

It was almost reminiscent for those old enough to remember of the Nanu, Nanu greeting blurted out by Robin Williams during the heyday of the Mork & Mindy TV series and the whole language of Mork from Ork that evolved.

Nonsensical, funny, thought-provoking – The Foreigner covers all the emotions through an unlikely script.

Mark DuMez, the theatre’s artistic director, summed it up well in a piece in the program, talking about the comedy’s simple premise of “fake it till you make it.”

“Beneath this well-drawn and simple premise, like most enduring comedies, deeper roots are found,” he writes. “Each character has hidden potential which has yet to be discovered. These potentials range from generous to deeply sinister and it takes Charlie’s disturbance in their community to uncover each one.”

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Charlie (Kirk Smith) doesn’t know what to do with Froggy (Paul Herbert), Betty (Michelle Lieffertz), and Catherine (Mallory James). (Photo by Lexi Bainas/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Kaitlin Williams, who directs ‘The Foreigner’, says get ready to laugh till you cry. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

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