The Foreigner, An Unfortunate Shocking Play

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

About a month ago my husband and I went to the The Colonnade to see The Foreigner, a play written by Larry Shue. This was an especially eventful night for me because my husband doesn't normally go to the theater. I was thrilled and ready to enjoy the play with him as this was his first.

I read an advertisement about it in the weekend section of the paper on Friday before attending the play on Saturday evening. The advertisement noted that the play was about a foreigner - who could not speak or understand English that came to spend a weekend in a lodge in a small Georgia town. It was reported to be filled with humor of how this foreigner was privy to the other lodge occupants secret conversations.

The occupants consist of a nice old lady who owns the lodge, a debutante -who has control of her deceased father's fortune. Her seemingly slow-brained brother also lives there as well as the debutante's finance - who is a minister.

Since the foreigner was supposedly unable to understand or speak English, there was no fear that any of these secrets would turn out to have a detrimental impact on those who began to use the foreigner as their confidant.

As the story develops we discover that the mean old county property appraiser is going to condemn the lodge so that the minister can purchase the lodge from the old lady when he marries the debutante. The plan between the minister and the mean old county property appraiser is to purchase the property dirt cheap and make it a members only club.

As the foreigner discovers the plot he is appalled at the plan against the nice old lady but can't say anything because "he doesn't speak or
understand English." The more he overhears the more he feels he must do something to help this nice old lady who doesn't have a clue what is going on.

All the while the slow-brained brother has taken it upon himself to teach the foreigner the English language. So far so good, the play is very enjoyable and just downright hilarious.

When the rest of the characters discover that the foreigner has begun to understand and speak some English two things happen. First the debutante decides it's time to give her seemingly slow-brained brother his share of the inheritance, since he was obviously smart enough to teach the foreigner English which also means that the debutante won't have enough money to give to the minister to purchase the lodge when they marry and second, they become panicky and irate because they aren't sure at what point the foreigner began to understand what they had been

The debutante doesn't know if he understood her when she told him she was pregnant by the minister and she wasn't really happy in her relationship with the minister and the minister and the mean old property appraiser are convinced that he is well aware of their plot to swindle the nice old lady out of her property.

The mean old property appraiser makes threats to the foreigner and announces that he is going to get the brothers and they will fix this problem because he intends to have that property for the private club. He's going to get the Klan. Whoa. Wait a minute.

Did he just say what I think he said? He's going to get the Klan brothers to get rid of the foreigner because he foiled their plan. I'm not believing this. This came from no where, out of the blue. I'm in utter shock.

The 'Klan' shows up, in full regalia - robes and hoods.

The occupants of the lodge have devised a plan to outsmart the Klan
and run them off.

They also discover that the minister is a member of the Klan.

The police arrest them and their vehicle burns up. Hoorah. But come on, what is the purpose of having the Klan be represented at all in this play?

I looked up the play on the Internet and was astounded to find out that this is how the play was originally written. A huge lesson learned for me. I should have googled this play prior to going because I sure would not have attended.

I spoke with the director of the theater and he expressed that the play was to show how ridiculously moronic the Klan is and that they did not support or approve of their beliefs. That was good to know but how about a statement or disclaimer of some kind in the advertisements about the play or even a comment made after the play was over? Something, anything to let people know that the play was in no way in support of the Klan or its activities and that a resemblance of the Klan was in the play. And, can you really make fun of the Klan - a group of people who have done some of the most horrendous, unthinkable, inexcusable acts to people that anyone could imagine? There's nothing funny about that.

Lesson learned - read before going to a play. I certainly will next time.

Donna Garrison

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