The Foreigner preview: “character-driven and witty”

By Catriona Inglis

The Foreigner is a light and fun comedy that is very much character driven. It follows the character of Charlie Baker, an Englishman, who at the beginning of the play arrives in rural Georgia with his friend, Froggy LeSeur. Not wanting to speak to anyone, Charlie is convinced by Froggy to pretend to be a foreigner who speaks no English. The shenanigans are very much driven by the other characters’ belief that Charlie cannot understand what they are saying. It is full of slapstick as well as situation comedy. The Foreigner promises to be an amusing and quick-paced comedy with frequent laughs.

Ooook! Productions made the commendable decision to cast their actors race-blind which has led to a diverse cast. Uday Duggal, who plays Owen Musser in The Foreigner said that “it’s been a very interesting journey being a brown person playing a white supremacist”. Owen is one of the main antagonists of the play and Duggal said that it’s been really fun to play such a “menacing and horrible person”. Racism is a very important theme within the play, and the script itself is excellent in dealing with the controversy surrounding it. It does feature a member of the KKK in full ceremonial dress and the production team described the logistical difficulty in obtaining a costume.

Owen particularly comes into conflict with the character of Charlie throughout the play – believing him to be a foreigner without a word of English. Dan Hodgkinson, who plays Charlie, describes the character as an “exceptionally awkward person”, who struggles to connect with other people. Hodgkinson summarises the play as Charlie’s journey to break out of that “social awkwardness and finding confidence in his own actions and abilities”. Charlie is, therefore, a very relatable character whom the audience can really get behind. This provides a steady backbone to the humour within the play so that the balance of meaning and comedy is strong.

The play is being performed in the Assembly Rooms Theatre which means that we can look forward to excellent sound and lighting quality. The technical team will be using sound lighting to create a storm in the first scene to generate a dramatic opening that foreshadows the later drama within the play. The technical team will also be using lighting to show the passing of time by showing the changes of the day. This will be an interesting visual choice that will add to the spectacle of the show. I also look forward to watching the cast utilise the trap door within the show, as this scene promises to be a climactic moment of both comedy and drama.

Overall, The Foreigner promises to be entertaining and easy-going despite its more serious themes of racism and white supremacy. Assistant director Kat Menhennet describes the play as a “feel – good comedy” with “proper laugh out loud moment(s)”. The play is a classic example of comedy with slapstick and wit. Menhennet concludes by saying that “you come away feeling really good” afterwards because it is a “really friendly and happy play”. The Foreigner promises to be well worth a watch and will have you laughing from beginning to end.

Photograph: The Foreigner Production Team

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