Innocents abroad

The Foreigner

<i>The Foreigner</i>: Before Borat, there was … hang on, who is this joker?

The Foreigner: Before Borat, there was … hang on, who is this joker?

Rated 3.0

Main Street Theatre Works has moved back into its summer home, the attractive Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre in Jackson. Opening up its two-show season is The Foreigner, Larry Shue’s Southern hunting-lodge comedy from the 1980s, involving a visiting Brit so colorless that he actually asks, “How does one obtain a personality?”

This gent, recovering from a bad marriage, wants to avoid contact with the Georgia locals. At the suggestion of a friend named Froggy LeSueur, the Brit decides to pretend he can’t speak English. Of course he soon becomes a sympathetic if largely tongue-tied confidant of several characters. He even becomes a hero, helping run off a raid by the local Ku Klux Klan.

OK, it’s a hokey story with predictable plot developments and (surprise!) a feel-good ending. Most of the play’s inhabitants are flimsy caricatures of Southern stereotypes, from the xenophobic redneck (presented well by David Campfield) to the dim-witted but kind-hearted village idiot (Anthony Scoggins) and his sister, the pretty young heiress (Kristine David).

But while the script is insubstantial in several departments, it nonetheless offers a fine framework for the comic abilities of actor Floyd Harden, who really is quite funny as the visiting Brit—inventing his own crazy language as the need arises, and making up “foreign” customs as well.

There are also some nice upgrades to the amphitheater, like a bigger stage and more grass. The twilight evening air and the moonlight are as lovely as always.