Annie Russell opens season with ‘The Foreigner’

Wit and irony always leave a pleasant taste on one’s tongue, particularly when one’s tongue is named “Floppy.” Rollins’ recent rendition of The Foreigner was “remarkable.” This comedic play features a shy man named Charlie and his British friend Froggy, who leaves him at a Georgia bed-and-breakfast with the instructions for the others not to bother him under the guise that he cannot speak English. This results in poor Charlie hearing a few things he shouldn’t and eventually developing a personality and a reputation as a “raconteur.”

While I went in with some skepticism—having seen only one Broadway play and a strange rendition of Peter Rabbit—the immaculate set design quickly proved my low expectations wrong. The simple country style, cluttered with endearing relics from taxidermied fish ready to sing to a smattering of antique spoons, instantly set the mood. One of the first indicators of the professional quality of The Foreigner was the real water running down the windows of the house and the flashes of lightning perfectly cued to claps of the thunder as the story opened on Charlie and Frog trudging through heavy rain.

Once inside the homely Southern abode, the actors are meticulous in preserving the realistic atmosphere. They perform very normal actions, from getting drinks to adding wood to the fire, careful to never give an inkling that they are on stage. One of the most commendable aspects of the actors and actresses were their facial expressions. Even while sitting in chairs off to the side of a larger scene, each played their character perfectly, arousing laughs with their reactions to the others. While Charlie was the undeniable star of the play, with his Robin Williams-esque ability to spout nonsensical and hilarious babble, Ellard was a favorite of mine. He is a charming lad with a flighty mind and whose intellect is exploited by the less savory members in the house. In one morning scene, Ellard is asked what he likes for breakfast by the kind Southern belle of the house:

Betty: All right. How do ye like yer eggs?

Ellard: What?

Betty: How do ye like yer eggs?

Ellard: They’re real good. Thank you.

Betty: Ellard!

Ellard: What?

Betty: When I say, “How do ye like yer eggs,” that means, “How do ye want me to fix ‘em.”

Ellard: Oh.

Betty: So how do ye like ‘em?

Ellard: Fried?

Betty: All right, then!

Later, Betty asks him how he liked his eggs and he responds, much to her frustration, with “fried.”

A comedy worth its laughs, The Foreigner exposes real issues like xenophobia, adultery, and how people can change. All’s well that ends well, though: the final lines left the audience laughing and giving a standing ovation to the Rollins Theatre Department.

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