Comedy is a great remedy and The Foreigner delivers the prescribed laughs at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, opening Thursday.
“I think it’s a perfect script,” said director Kaitlin Williams after a rehearsal of the play by Larry Shue. “In terms of the comedy, the way he’s written it, it’s airtight. And then, we have really brilliant comedic actors in the show so it just flies. It just takes off.”
The cast includes Kirk Smith as shy Charlie Baker, with lively (Froggy) LeSueur played by Paul Herbert, Betty Meeks by Michelle Lieffertz, Rev. David Marshall Lee by Sheldon Graham, Catherine Simms by Mallory James, Owen Musser by Brett Harris and Ellard Simms by Nathan Kay.
Williams is delighted with her cast.
“They’re the best. We’ve had so much fun. We’ve been laughing and laughing. Kirk Smith is returning to Chemainus as the lead, Charlie. And we have some other returning actors. Michelle Lieffertz has been here many times so people will recognize her name. She’s brilliant. And then we have some newcomers as well. I’m so pleased with them: my first-choice cast definitely. They’ve already become a family.”
Williams knows The Foreigner well.
“I did it originally in Vancouver at Pacific Theatre. I acted the role of Catherine in it. We have Mallory James taking the role this time and she’s been brilliant. That’s when it first occurred to me how important the catharsis of the play was because I remember being on stage and the audience was literally slapping their knees and stomping their feet. The uproar from the audience made me think: ‘Oh, wow, this is really important! This is good for everybody.’
“That’s when we first did it. Then the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver picked it up and we toured it, and I got to revisit it. So, this is my third time living in this world and I feel very grateful and now that I’m the director, I get to watch it. That’s a whole different treat.
“There’s plenty of broad comedy but it’s also very smart,” she added. “I would even say it’s worth seeing twice because the stuff he plants at the beginning of the show has such payoff at the end. If you know and you watch it a second time, you will get so much more. If you can it would be worth coming to see it again.
“And it’s also got some thematic elements that are serious, too. There are some real questions that he’s posing to the audience about how we treat others. It has more depth than your typical farce does,” she said.
Williams indicated comedy is just as important as dramatic theatre. “The catharsis you get from a show like this where the comedy just keeps building and building, it’s healing. We need that. It’s so silly.”
The play is on for only a short run until May 9.