Comedy "The Foreigner" brings rural Georgia to Shoestring Theatre

A NEW TAKE ON STORYTIME — From left, Ellard (played by Alexander Deavellar), Froggy Le Sueur (Matt Lenssen), Charlie Baker (Nate Sakovich) and Catherine Simms (Lizzy Parsons) take part in storytime, in a scene from the comedy The Foreigner. The play runs Thursday, April 25, through Sunday, May 5, at Shoestring Theatre in Lake Helen.

In remote rural Georgia, Meeks’ Fishing Lodge has been nestled next to a picturesque lake for a generation, but scarce lodgers and needed repairs have brought many problems.

When we first meet the locals, the situation is fraught with tension, but soon, hilarity ensues as Shoestring Theatre in Lake Helen brings back Larry Shue’s wildly popular and timely comedy The Foreigner, opening Thursday, April 25, and running through Sunday, May 5.

Nathan Sakovich plays Charlie Baker, the foreigner for whom the play is named. He travels from England to America with his friend Froggy Le Sueur, played by Matt Lenssen.

They stay at the lodge with owner Betty Meeks (Cindy Dusenberg), a hardworking but impressionable widow who is more a mother to her guests than innkeeper.

Lodgers include the kindly Rev. David Marshall Lee (Michael Philips), who proves appearances can be misleading; Catherine Simms (Lizzy Parsons), a spoiled, headstrong heiress; and her seemingly simple-minded brother, Ellard (Alexander Deavellar).

Then enters the recently appointed county property inspector with ulterior motives, Owen Musser (Christopher McLeod), and a few members of his club.

As the story unfolds, two foreigners visit the fishing lodge — Froggy Le Sueur, a demolition expert who runs training sessions at the nearby Army base, and his friend, Charlie Baker, who has come with him to escape a marital crisis at home in England.

One of Charlie’s problems, a near-pathological shyness, makes him terrified of speaking to strangers, but Froggy has an out for his buddy. He tells Betty that Charlie doesn’t speak a word of English and feels so embarrassed by his ignorance that he cannot bear to have anyone even attempt conversation with him.

As a result, people discuss the most personal and treacherous subjects in front of Charlie, as if he were not in the room. Through this, Charlie discovers a liberating freedom and power he never knew possible.

Director Sally Daykin remains a longtime presence at Shoestring Theatre, both on the stage and directing.

“Larry Shue has given us a combination of comedic styles. From highbrow satire to pie-in-the-face physical slapstick, Shue manages to tickle every funny bone,” said Daykin.

“But he still provides thought-provoking insight because we are all foreigners, even to ourselves. The delightfully larger-than-life characters all reveal hidden depths and contradictions through this masterpiece of a comedy!”

Philip Brandes, reviewing for The Los Angeles Times, said of the play, “One reason Larry Shue’s The Foreigner 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. If those

aren’t grounds enough to enjoy an evening at the theater ... I don’t know what is!”

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 25-27, and May 2-4, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28, and May 5.

Tickets cost $18 for adults, $15 for senior citizens, and $10 for students. There is a $3 discount for Thursday shows. Group rates are available for groups of 12 or more.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.shoestringtheatre.net or by calling the Shoestring box office at 386-228-3777.

Shoestring Theatre is at 380 S. Goodwin St. in Lake Helen.

Don’t forget, season tickets for the 2019-20 season are now available! Call to reserve your favorite seat!