By Thomas Brandon
Larry Obie’s award-winning play The Foreigner is enjoying a light-hearted staging at the Hoover Little Theater in Glendale currently. The Stepping Stone Players have produced a straight-forward, faithful adaptation of the well-known comedy that lets the cleverness of the material shine through, despite the production’s limitations.
The play, set in a forest cabin in Georgia, is about a reserved Englishman named Charlie, who is terrified of conversations with strangers, lest his inner nothingness be revealed. To make his stay amongst the locals bearable, he goes along with a scheme to convince them that he is a foreigner who doesn’t speak English. His attempt to isolate himself backfires, however, when his “foreignness” only causes the other characters to spill their secrets to him. As he becomes more engaged in their lives, he discovers a plot that he has to stop without letting on about his own little secret.
It’s a reasonably engaging piece with some solid laughs, helped by a striking set and evocative lighting design. The production’s greatest asset, however, was Dave Huber as Charlie. Though the initial pace of the show was muted, once Charlie stops talking, Huber‘s expressive face takes over and helps craft deeper layers to the character that were missing from others. Mitch Lewis provides an able assist as Froggy and engages the other actors on stage well.
Most of the other aspects of the show fail to really deepen beyond the surface appearance. Given the general likeability of the play, however, this doesn’t prevent the production from achieving nice moments.
“The Foreigner” runs May 7 through May 23, with shows on Fridays- Saturdays at 7:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm at the Hoover Black Box Theatre (651 Glenwood Road, Glendale, CA 91202). Tickets are $15; $12 for seniors and teens with their school ID. This show is not recommended for pre-teens. Tickets are available online at www.steppingstoneplayers.com or at the door.