Despite the fact that Larry Shue decided to use the Ku Klux Klan as the momentum-killing dark underbelly of his 1983 Southern fried farce “The Foreigner,” it doesn’t deter the amusement of Sinclair Community College’s entertaining presentation, which opened Friday, February 18 nimbly directed by Nelson Sheely.
The charming Isaac Hollister is perfectly cast as Charlie, the unassuming titular Englishman who visits a quaint fishing lodge (rustically designed by Terry Stump) to escape the worry of his wife’s ailing health. The opening minutes are slow, but the comedy kicks into gear once the colorfully unsuspecting folks at the rural Georgia lodge are told Charlie is from a faraway country and doesn’t speak English. It’s a treat to see Hollister exude a sense of timid bewilderment, particularly in moments of eavesdropping, that delightfully evolves into sly confidence as Charlie settles into his surroundings and ultimately becomes an unlikely hero. He is particularly terrific uttering gibberish in Act 2.
Melissa Kerr Ertsgaard, one of Sinclair’s most versatile performers, returns with another strong turn as Betty, the hospitable lodge owner who wants nothing more than to ensure Charlie’s comfort even while screaming in his face. Steven Brotherton, a standout in Sinclair’s marvelous production of “Dog Sees God” last season, is likeable once more as the dim-witted Ellard, who humorously becomes Charlie’s English teacher. As Ellard’s sister Catherine, Sarah Parsons forms a pleasant rapport with Hollister and is well-matched with Nicklaus Moberg as David, a minister with evil on his mind. Travis Clyburn energetically tackles the stereotypical Owen, David’s redneck partner in crime. Chris Hahn has fun as Froggy, Charlie’s British confidant. Aisha Ahmed, Nicole Dine, Lyrit Ertsgaard, Katie Kluck, Rebecca Knowles and Josh Smith complete the cast.
The Foreigner continues through Saturday, February 26 in Blair Hall Theatre, Building 10, at Sinclair Community College, 444 W. Third St. Performances are Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Act One: 70 minutes. Act Two: 60 minutes. All seats are reserved and cost $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. All Thursday tickets cost an additional $5 and includes pre-show appetizers and cash bar. For tickets or more information, call (937) 512-2808 or visit www.sinclair.edu/arts