Karen (aswanargent) wrote,

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More on The Foreigner

I mentioned yesterday that the New York Times had reviewed The Foreigner.  Well, much to my surprise, yesterday's Financial Times also had a brief review of the play.  For those who aren't FT readers, here's what the reviewer had to say:

          "It is slightly jarring to enter the Roundabout Theatre's Laura Pels space and encounter something as fluffy as Larry Shue's The Foreigner.  More often dedicated to new work, including the year's best play to date, Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, the Pels now houses this revival of a 1983 comedy about a mewling British proofreader who, at a holiday lodge in rural Georgia, outwits a conniving preacher to keep the lodge property in the family of a folksy old woman.  He foils the conspiracy by, for an act and a half, pretending to speak no English.

          Having escaped being drafted into the London's West End production of his greatest stage triumph, The Producers, Matthew Broderick, as the heroic protagonist, Froggy, gives every indication of enjoying himself here.  And in life: the actor is getting a little doughy around the jowls, and his plumpness and pallor are highly suitable for this English shnook.    [And if anyone can tell me what "shnook" means, please do so! -- KC]

          He executes the play's set pieces - especially a Marx Brothers-ish mirrored miming scene around the breakfast table with the local dolt, Ellard Simms - with aplomb.  And his gibberish version of Little Red Riding Hood drew laughs from a New York audience still in shell-shock from the election.  [good word, "shell-shock" -- KC]

          If there is no disguising the fact that The Foreigner is a piece of piffle, with a far-fetched plot and some shaky direction by Scott Schwartz, there is also no denying that Frances Sternhagen, as the lodge's owner, Betty Meeks, is providing even more enjoyment than Broderick.

          So often confined in the crisp crinolines of the proper matriarch, including a recurring turn as Charlotte's mother-in-law on Sex and the City, Sternhagen loosens up as a granny yokel.

          As the preacher, Neal Huff, so good recently in Take Me Out, is thoroughly professional, if a little under-challenged.  (It would be refreshing to see him in more extreme circumstances: starring in a comedy such as Shue's other often-performed work, The Nerd, or gracing a psychotic revenge tragedy.)  Meanwhile, Kevin Cahoon is stretched to the limits as Ellard.  It is not easy to play the simpleton for an entire evening without trying theatregoers' indulgence; Cahoon manages the feat."

(The rating given was three stars out of a possible five)

Sorry there was nothing about Lee.


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