Question: What is the result of combining a funny script masterfully overseen by a trained director with talented, experienced actors?
Answer: A sensational production of “The Foreigner,” a comedy playing at Playmasters, Bensalem.
Playwright Larry Shue wrote only one other play, “The Nerd.” He died in a plane crash when he was only 39.
Most of the humor in “The Foreigner” comes from mistaken identities and role-playing. The characters show depth and dimension. We laugh at them, we laugh with them, and we care about them as they become involved in preposterous situations.
Too often in comedy productions, the actors try too hard for the laughs and the situations become forced and slapstick. Not so in this production of “The Foreigner.”
Likewise, often directors feel they must set up the scenes for the laughs with extreme physicality. Director Kathy Garofano is wise enough not to resort to that gimmick. She knows she has a good script; she knows the story is amusing all by itself, and she allows that humor to work naturally in the story’s presentation.
Timing…pauses…facial expressions…misunderstandings…glances…all these subtleties add to the humor.
By day, actor Adam Corbett is a surgical veterinarian for the SPCA. By night, (and on weekend nights and matinees) he transforms into the hysterically funny introvert, Charlie Baker, who not only discovers he has a knack for making people laugh, but also finds a fearlessness within himself to help others.
Regina Deavitt is delightful in her good-humored interpretation of the Innkeeper, Betty Meeks. Fred J. Ezell has found a winning characterization for the well-intended and oft misunderstood man, Ellard Simms, who finds his mission in helping Charlie to learn to speak English.
Looking unpleasant is Bob Beaucheane as Owen Musser whose physical presence couldn’t be more imposing. He spells trouble from the moment he sets foot on stage.
Musser’s carefully concealed compatriot is the Rev. David Marshall Lee who is not what he seems to be. His mission to deceive and disrupt is clear from the start, although actor Richard Halls uses a silky tongue to hide his nastiness from his girlfriend Catherine Simms and her family.
Laura Buttenbusch convincingly portrays pretty, trusting Catherine Simms totally hoodwinked by her intended husband, the Rev. Lee. She falls quickly out of love when she discovers he is marrying her to acquire the house where she lives with her brother Ellard and innkeeper Betty Meeks to make it a headquarters for the local Ku Klux Klan.
Finally, there is the character of Froggy Lesueur, a military person experienced in bomb making. Sara Stepnowski is first on the stage, pops in and out, and executes the perfect ending.
Sara is totally comfortable on the stage interacting believably with all the actors. While several developments take Froggy by surprise, there never is a moment when she isn’t in charge. Her facial expressions are priceless.
“The Foreigner” plays Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m through Dec. 11 at Playmasters Theatre in Neshaminy State Park, Bensalem. Tickets are $15 and available at the door.