Sidesplittingly funny, ‘The Foreigner’ takes the Chemainus Theatre stage for a short run

Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Ellard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Ellard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Kaitlin Williams, who directs ‘The Foreigner’, says get ready to laugh till you cry. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Kaitlin Williams, who directs ‘The Foreigner’, says get ready to laugh till you cry. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Catherine Simms (Mallory James) cuddles up to Charlie Baker (Kirk Smith). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Catherine Simms (Mallory James) cuddles up to Charlie Baker (Kirk Smith). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Catherine (Mallory James) tells her story to Charlie (Kirk Smith). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Catherine (Mallory James) tells her story to Charlie (Kirk Smith). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Charlie (Kirk Smith) tries to ignore Catherine (Mallory James) but she’s determined. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Charlie (Kirk Smith) tries to ignore Catherine (Mallory James) but she’s determined. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Charlie (Kirk Smith) doesn’t know what to do with Ellard (Nathan Kay), Betty (Michelle Lieffertz), and Catherine (Mallory James). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Charlie (Kirk Smith) doesn’t know what to do with Ellard (Nathan Kay), Betty (Michelle Lieffertz), and Catherine (Mallory James). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Ellard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Ellard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Elldard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Elldard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Ellard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Betty Meeks, Catherine Simms, and Ellard Simms are all concerned about Charlie Baker. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Betty Meeks tries to help The Foreigner, Charlie Baker, after Ellard Simms teases him. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Betty Meeks tries to help The Foreigner, Charlie Baker, after Ellard Simms teases him. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Ellard, right, gets a scolding from Betty for acting so foolishly. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Ellard, right, gets a scolding from Betty for acting so foolishly. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Charlie Baker is not sure why he’s doing it, but decides to follow Ellard’s lead. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Charlie Baker is not sure why he’s doing it, but decides to follow Ellard’s lead. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Ellard Simmm is a country hick who needs a friend. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Ellard Simmm is a country hick who needs a friend. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
In this hilarious scene, Charlie and Ellard copy each other’s every move. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)In this hilarious scene, Charlie and Ellard copy each other’s every move. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
The scene where Charlie and Ellard mimic each other will have you roaring with laughter. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)The scene where Charlie and Ellard mimic each other will have you roaring with laughter. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Ellard, right, leads Charlie through a funny copycat scene where they mimic each other’s every move. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Ellard, right, leads Charlie through a funny copycat scene where they mimic each other’s every move. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
What is going to happen next, the audience wonders when they see this. Little do they know. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)What is going to happen next, the audience wonders when they see this. Little do they know. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
What is going to happen next, the audience wonders when they see this. Little do they know. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)What is going to happen next, the audience wonders when they see this. Little do they know. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

If you’re ready to exchange grey skies for belly laughs, The Foreigner at the Chemainus Theatre Festival is the show you’ve been looking for.

Opening night is set for Thursday, April 18, one day earlier because of the Good Friday holiday.

“I think it’s a perfect script. 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,” said director Kaitlin Williams last week after a rehearsal of this hilarious play by Larry Shue.

The cast includes Kirk Smith as shy Charlie Baker, with army man “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 said the audience will laugh until their cheeks hurt.

“And don’t we need that? I think that’s cathartic, and it’s 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.”

She 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 slapstick but it’s also a well-written funny play.

“There’s plenty of broad comedy but it’s also very smart. 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.

This is not one of those Easter eggs with just the chocolate shell. When you cut it open, you’ll find there’s lots of filling in The Foreigner.

“You’ll have a great time and I hope you’ll also be thinking about something when you go home.”

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.”

So, come on out, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, Williams said.

“Because I’ve known this show for a long time and I know Chemainus, I’ve often thought that they’d love it here.”

Don’t forget, though, that this play is in for only a short run, and closes on May 9. Tickets: 250-246-9820 and secure your seats.