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Review of Ashland Stage Company's production of "The Foreigner"

"The Foreigner" Hits its Marques


For a production of "The Foreigner" to succeed, the actor playing the title character must be able to tell a joke with a glance, project emotions by raising an eyebrow, and speak volumes without saying a word. Sam Marques does these things and much more, making the Ashland Stage company's current production an exceptional delight. The hilariously expressive and cherubic actor capitalizes on every opportunity to elicit laughter while at the same time turning a relatively silly character into a noble role model. Add in the uniformly talented supporting cast, and this "Foreigner" delivers satisfaction from beginning to end.

The play recounts the events of a long weekend at an old inn in rural Georgia, where the gregarious Staff Sgt. Froggy LeSueur (Gordon Bass) drops off his painfully shy friend, Charlie (Marques). To relieve Charlie of the burden of conversation, Froggy tells the inn proprietor, Betty (Ellen Bode) that Charlie can't speak English. Thinking him oblivious, other guests unburden themselves to the mostly mute Charlie, revealing a devious plot complete with a corrupt property inspector, a large inheritance, and the Ku Klux Klan. Charlie uses highly comic machinations to unravel the plot and, surprisingly, find love.

Playing Betty with frenetic graciousness, Bode provides the first excellent comic foil for Marques. But she is soon matched by Robert Fix who plays the dimwitted Ellard with an engaging earnestness. Fix and Marques manage to make their scenes together both hilarious and heart-warming, no small feat. In another effective partnership, Cliff Todd is smoothly sweet and Stephen Coy despicably sour as the show's bad guys.

The faux log-cabin set is more distracting than enriching but, late in the play, proves to have some clever attributes. Best of all, in the last scenes, Marques proves his dialogue can be as witty as his silence, the final achievement in this highly successful

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