I was so hoping that the last show I would review at HU wouldn’t be a flop — so much so that I caught myself at the beginning of “The Foreigner” actually looking for things to criticize.
There was hardly anything for a nit-picking reviewer to work with. Let’s just say, the HU theatre experience for me has closed out with flourishing bang and sprinkles.
I admit, I was a bit worried at the start as Dom Corsoe stomped across the Studio Theatre stage in his quintessentially “old boy” khakis and knee-highs with the lanky and laconic Joshua Cookingham. I was momentarily worried — not by their accents, which remained both consistent and charming, but by Cookingham’s line: “I’ve often wondered how does one acquire a personality?”
I was worried because, well, the character wasn’t wondering for no reason — he didn’t have any personality to speak of, and I sure hoped he would pick one up by the end.
Half an hour later, I was uncustomarily laughing out loud at Cookingham’s exquisite miming antics at the breakfast table and his mugging that accompanied the rest of the dialogue. So, nicely done, Josh. You totally had me.
Everyone in the cast delivered solid performances, and several of them were exceptionally good. Meagan Heffner has, by herself, one of the most adorable stage presences possible. Give her an eighty-year-old persona and a Southern accent and she could charm a rifle out of a redneck’s hand.
And, the set . . . The completeness of this set rivaled — if not surpassed — that of “Steel Magnolias,” which has been my favorite set so far. Set design is and has been a strength of the department. It’s all in the detail and the depth, which The Foreigner had in full.
My only reservation with the show had nothing to do with the cast or the crew. I’m just still not sure how I feel about flippant KKK humor or usage, and The Foreigner definitely includes this. I wanted to laugh — the hoods are iconic images and I think as a culture we want to laugh at them. But even in the moment, I didn’t feel like laughing. That and it felt a bit stolen from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
But in the end, as Corsoe threw out another “I need a drink,” in his raspy British accent, it was still a tight, well-timed, intelligently-acted slew of laughs and excitement that made me wish I could be around for more HUTC seasons to come.