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Milwaukee Rep Revives Larry Shue’s Comedy Classic ‘The Foreigner’

Nov. 22, 2016
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Photo by Michael Brosilow

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater has perfectly timed its latest—and funniest—production of The Foreigner, which debuted on its stage 33 years ago. Written by then-Rep actor Larry Shue, the comedy finds itself in the middle of social and political relevance once again with its direct references to people from different backgrounds who speak no English and have customs different than those in the U.S.

Coincidence? 

You decide. That is, if you can stop laughing throughout this wacky, spirited romp of a comedy that director Laura Gordon perfectly distills into classic farce with the help of a talented seven-member acting ensemble.

The very proper Brit, Charlie, doesn’t want to socialize at the Georgia fishing lodge where he’s staying. So Army friend Froggie, casts him as “the foreigner” who speaks no English so he can be left alone during his stay. All manner of crazy fun ensues as Charlie accidentally overhears personal secrets and gets involved in the other boarders’ lives. Add in members of the “Christian Hunting Club” (aka the KKK), aliens from outer space and some good ol' boy nastiness, and the stage is set. Literally.

The cast excels from Matt Zambrano’s too-funny portrayal of Charlie to Brendan Meyer as the slow-witted Ellard. In the tough role of playing straight man to the other actors, Marcus Truschinski is the perfect foil as the secretly racist reverend as well as Eric Parks as the backwater bayou bad boy. 

Playwright Shue died much too young at age 39 in a plane crash. But his well-chosen words, funny and otherwise, continue to live on. They remind us that it’s important to laugh, something we all have in common and can share with one another.

Through Dec. 18 in the Quadracci Powerhouse, 108 E. Wells St. For tickets call 414-224-9490 or visit milwaukeerep.com.

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