Tinned honkytonk filled the air and the sun set slowly over the wooden deck nestled in the midst of the Arboretum. The air was pleasantly warm, if sprinkled with mosquitos, but that fell away as the actors entered from offstage and the play began.
The premise of the ‘The Foreigner’ is simple: Charlie Baker, grieving Brit is taken by his friend Froggy LeSueur to Betty Meeks’ Fishing Lodge Resort in the town of Tilghman, Georgia; and because he doesn’t want to talk to anyone, his friend tells the innkeeper that Charlie can’t speak English. Unfortunately, for Charlie, but fortunately for us, Froggy’s plan backfires completely and hilarity ensues. The cast is spot on, led by the expressive Paul Del Bene who as Charlie carries the play with great aplomb and deft comedy. Steph Hankinson is booming presence as Froggy, and is a great foil to Charlie’s nervous stuttering. The residents of Tilgham are engaging twists on down home caricatures: the sweet clueless old lady, Betty [Laurie Tribbey], the acerbic ex-debutant, Catherine [Brianna Owens], the too good preacher, Rev. David [Robert Williamson], the racist hick, Owen [Greg Damico], and the none too bright country boy, Ellard [Lucas Milliken]. The direction and production were brilliant and almost seamless. One can only wonder what passersbys thought when they saw a group of klansmen troop down Arboretum Drive.
The play is a witty satire that will have you laughing for days afterwards so make sure you take a friend so you’re not laughing alone.
‘The Foreigner’ is running from April 25-28 at 8 pm on Wyatt Deck at the UC Davis Arboretum. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for children.