The foreigner: an analysis and critique of the play

My In-Depth Analysis And Critique Of The Play 'The Foreigner' For Anyone Considering Buying A Ticket

I absolutely loved this show!


"The Foreigner," told the story of an English man named Charlie and his friend Froggy who came to a hostel in Georgia. Froggy challenges Charlie to act as if he is a "foreigner" who doesn't know how to speak English for the entire time he stays in the hostel. The play takes the audience on the journey of Charlie trying to portray a "foreigner" and showcases the obstacles he encounters along the way. Moreover, all of the characters were central to the storyline, but the main character was Charlie.

I liked and was most interested in Owen and Ellard because Owen's character development was unique in that I didn't expect him to be as complex as he was. As far as Ellard is concerned, I liked him and was interested in him because he had to try much harder than the others to fit society's mold of how an individual should behave. On the contrary, I didn't like Froggy because it was very hard to understand who he was as an individual and what his true personality was. To me, he seemed as if he was somewhat artificial in the way he acted when he was around others.

Furthermore, during the course of the play, the actors were effective in portraying their respective characters and they were believable when portraying them. Some of the actors even used certain dialects and accents to help them convey who their character was, to the audience. An example of this would be that Charlie had to utilize an accent in order to pretend like he did not know any English. Additionally, the actor who played Ellard had to pretend to be "slow" and not as intelligent as the other characters. In terms of which characters I relate to, I relate to Catherine the most because of the fact that we are both very feminine and we both are hopeless romantics. I also related to Ellard in that others treat him as though he is not as important or capable because of his cognitive disability, and I too have experienced what it is like to be treated differently.

Further, as it relates to the director of this play, he intended to give the audience a night of fun and entertainment with comic relief. He also wanted to convey the message that people should be themselves. The director was successful in conveying this because the audience was laughing throughout the play and afterward were heard saying that this was "one of the best plays they have ever seen". The audience also understood the message about remaining true to yourself.

The play is set in a hostel in Tilghman County, Georgia around the 1960s. This was shown through the use of a log cabin, older-style furniture, and furnishings such as the swinging doors to the kitchen, which is not at all common in modern households. The scenery showed that the play took place in Georgia specifically through the Southern food and sweet tea that the characters often ate and drank, the pictures of fish that were hung around the hostel, and the old, rusty screen door which one would typically only encounter in the South.

The scenery also conveyed information about the characters. For instance, by Betty almost always being in the kitchen, it indicated that she is a caregiver who conforms to gender roles. Furthermore, the scenery showcased the particular situation in which the play was set, by showing the audience that the characters were in a cabin in the countryside. Moreover, the layout of the cabin clearly illustrates that the setting was a hostel and not someone's home. As was previously mentioned, the play's specific setting was in Georgia. The backdrop of grass and an empty field helped to clearly convey this. Overall, the scenery was appropriate in that it helped the audience to understand the setting and connect to the story.

In regards to the lighting design, the lamp that was in the middle of the table illustrates that this play was set in the past, as most people do not have this nowadays. In addition, the flipping of the power switch on the lamp indicated whether it was daytime or nighttime. This was also signified by the lights above the stage either casting a "warm" glow or a dim glow. Also, Ellipsoidal reflector spotlights, which according to the textbook: Theatre Experience 11th edition written by Edwin Wilson, Ellipsoidal reflector spotlights are "…the most widely used the conventional fixture." (Wilson, 320) were used to highlight the important characters in each scene.

Other characters were still visible, but less emphasized. In particular, lighting was used to show the frightening situation of the Ku Klux Klan arriving by using dark, red lights. Further, the lighting showed the mood throughout the play as well. For most of the play, the lighting was warm and welcoming. However, for the scene with the Ku Klux Klan, dark red and blue lights were used to depict a darker mood. As it concerns the actors, they were properly lit, with the important characters being spotlighted, but the others were still visible.

When it comes to costume design, it showed that the time period in which the play was taking place was around the 1960s. This is clearly exemplified by the fact that Betty wore an old, worn apron. The costume design also showed place, since Ellard was dressed in overalls and Catherine was in a Southern belle-type dress, both of which indicate the setting is in the South. Additionally, the style of the costumes showed that the play was set in a time period of around the 1960s. Further, the style of the costumes was very Southern and casual, which contrasted with Charlie, who was very well dressed. The costumes that each character wore, certainly showcased their personalities.

This is evidenced by Catherine's pink clothing which showed that she was very feminine. Betty, on the other hand, was in worn clothing, which illustrated that she was a hard-working Southern woman. Ellard was wearing overalls with one strap undone, which indicated that was cognitively "slow". Froggy's camouflage clothing showed that he was in the service. Moreover, Owen had tattoos and a muscle shirt, which showed that he was tough. Catherine's husband, the minister, was a figure of authority which was indicated through the fact that he always had his hair slicked back. Generally speaking, the costumes showed conflict by showing which characters were in the same "group" (those who wore the Southern and casual clothing) and who was the outsider (Charlie).

In terms of the sound design element of this production, old-fashioned music that was played before the show began, "told" the audience that the play was based in the past. Specifically, the old-time country that was played before, during intermission, as well as after the performance, conveyed that the play was set in the South. To add to that, this type of music illustrated that most of the characters were Southerners. As far as sound effects are concerned, the slamming of the screen door, the car engine revving, and the tires squealing made the Ku Klux Klan scene more frightening.

The Foreigner which was written by Larry Shue was written on January 1, 1984. The play was written to encourage audience members to be to who they are. Overall, the audience was very receptive to the production and it seemed as if they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. This completely aligned with my reaction in that all of my fellow audience members and I were laughing for the majority of the production. In addition, the audience was somewhat diverse in that it was comprised of several families as well as several elderly couples. The event was being presented to students who are a part of the Rollins College theatre department, however, it wasn't being presented for any particular type of group.

I feel that this production exceeded my standard of good theatre. Furthermore, the production that I attended I believe faithfully represented the play's original meaning of being true to who you are as an individual. To conclude, the actors as well as everyone who took part in this production, effectively conveyed that message that one should be to who they are, to the audience.

Popular Right Now

The 11 Most Meaningful 'Dear Evan Hansen' Quotes

Eleven of my favorite quotes from the new musical "Dear Evan Hansen" that changed my perspective after seeing the musical live.

The new musical Dear Evan Hansen, showing on Broadway's Music Box Theater is a suprisingly uplifting story about a boy who kills himself, and the star of the show (Evan Hansen played by Ben Platt) getting caught up in a messy lie, pretending to be best friends with the boy who took his life.

The story, however, is much more than one of sadness or suicide. It is one of love, the unconditional kind and the kind that you find yourself falling into. It is a story of friendship and forgiveness and owning up to your mistakes. But most importantly it is a story of accepting yourself and becoming confident in your own skin.

I was given the opportunity to see Dear Evan Hansen live on Broadway, and after hearing the songs live, the lyrics gave me a whole new meaning than when I would listen to them in my room through my headphones.

1. "I've learned to slam on the break, before I even turn the key."

Coming from the first song that was released off of the soundtrack "Waving Through a Window," this line helps charactarize Evan as anxious and nervous during interactions with others. Hitting the brake while starting a car is not necessary for it to start, but he creates this metaphor by saying he takes extra and unnecessary cautions before entering any seemingly simple and easy situation. As Evan is characterized, the audience or the listeners are able to connect better to him and to the story because more people than we may know must go through anxious thoughts and actions, that can be very difficult to live with.

2. "No one should stick it out or have any doubt that it matters that they are here."

"Dissappear," a song sung by Evan and his two friends as a proposal to Connor's (boy who committed suicide and was presumably best friends with Evan) parents about a project they are beginning to keep Connor's legacy alive, is a straightforward remark that "no one deserves to dissappear." This quote recognizes the struggles that many people face of hiding their struggles and not doing anything to fix them because they think it would be easier to hide it. It recognizes that people should not have to do this, and it is a request for people who are going through the things that Connor did to reach out and tell people that they are struggling, because it really does get better and asking for help is the first step.

3. "It takes a little patience, takes a little time. A little perseverance and a little uphill climb."

I believe this quote can relate to many things. It is a duet sung by Connor's father and Evan, titled "To Break in A Glove." Though it is literally talking about the correct way to break in a baseball glove, it can also be talking about parenting, school, or recovery from depression, anxiety, or any other mental disorders that can be consuming. Connor's dad was not anything of a prime parent to Connor, and this quote can mean that parenting a kid to your full potential takes patience and time. School, another big struggle in Evan's life as well as Connor's, takes patience but as does the most consuming and memorable aspect that the musical is addressing: overcoming depression and anxiety so that it does not consume you and lead to the decision that Connor ended up making. Though it may seem like a neverending cycle of depressing thoughts, to overcome them it takes patience and perseverance, much like any other accomplishment.

4. "Even when the dark comes crashing through, and when you need a friend to carry you, when you're broken on the ground you will be found."

From what is most definitely my favorite song from the soundtrack, "You Will Be Found" addresses the fact that so many people feel alone and feel as though Connor did. This line shows that even though you may feel alone and you may be at your darkest, deepest point, there will always be help and support and someone to care for you. You are not alone.

5. "I'd rather pretend I'm something better than these broken parts, pretend I'm something other than this mess that I am."

The line from "Words Fail" shows Evan at his most vulnerable. It shows the side of him that he wishes no one to witness because it is his worst side. I find this song to be the most emotional, and most importantly because the lyrics can be related to so well. With depression and anxiety, people can act out and do things as they see fit to make themselves feel better, which is partly what Evan did, pretending to be Connor's friend. This quote shows the reasons behind those actions, helping people in the same position feel relieved for the things that they think are going wrong only for them.

6. "When you're falling in a forest and there's nobody around do you evern really crash or even make a sound?"

This line is another from "Waving Through a Window" and ties to Evan's anxiety as well. It shows the slow deterioration of one's mind, and how no one even notices when someone is going through things like that, hence the metaphor to the tree falling in a forest and no one hearing it because no one is there. It is making a notion to the fact, also, that people are so afraid to discuss the issues of suicide and depression and anxiety, and that it is a problem especially among youth.

7. "Why should I play the grieving girl and lie saying that I miss you and that my world has gone dark without your light?"

This line from "Requiem," sung by Connor's sister and parents, is a different perspective of what happened to Connor, a more cynical perspective. While it may seem insensitive, I enjoy that Zoe (Connor's sister) stands her ground with her relationship with her brother and remains indifferent, instead of lying about loving him just because she isn't able to anymore.

8. "If I could tell her how she's everything to me, but we're a million worlds apart and I don't know how I would even start."

Although this is about how Evan feels about Zoe - not Connor - it shows how crippling it can be to wish you could be able to tell someone something, especially about your mental disablities, but you feel like you can't because you aren't close enough or don't know where to begin.

9. "So you got what you always wanted, so you got your dream come true, good for you."

This song is a turning point in the musical where Evan's actions begin to creep back up on him. It shows that even though you get what you wish for, it isni't always perfect all together. This line shows also that what you first think you want isn't always going to lead to the perfect life or the perfect girl or the perfect family, and you must not face your struggles with lies as Evan did.

10. "Your mom isn't going anywhere your mom is staying right here no matter what, I'll be here."

This comes from the song "So Big/So Small," when Evan apoligizes to his mother about abandoning her essentially for Connor's parents and she confesses to the hardships she has faced as a single mother who doesn't make much money. This is one of my favorite quotes, because it displays unconditional love from your family, and shows that no matter what it is you go through and no matter how much loathe you may feel for yourself, your family loves you and supports you.

11. "Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a great day and here's why: because today at least you're you and, well, that's enough."

These opening words to the finale close up the message of the show: that you are enough, no matter what anyone tells you and no matter what you begin to tell yourself. Making mistakes is human, as is having depression or anxiety, and just because you make mistakes or you have depressed thoughts does not mean that you are any less of a person than someone who doesn't feel the same as you. This musical and this line taught me that no matter what, you are wanted, you are needed, and you are worth it no matter what you do or what you go through.

Cover Image Credit: Dear Evan Hansen Official Website

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I Went To My First Broadway Show And It Was Tony-Worthy

To be clear, this was my first Broadway show on Broadway, and I loved almost every minute of it.


Let me just make the clarification now that this wasn't my first Broadway show I've seen. I've seen several at the Arizona Broadway Theater and also recently saw Wicked at ASU Gammage. However, this was my first ever Broadway show that I actually saw on Broadway. I was excited, to say the least. I knew it was at one of the smaller theaters on Broadway, but I was just as excited as I would have been for any of the other performances. It really all about the experience, and overall mine was great.

Deciding which show I was going to see was no small feat. I had a mini list that included Aladdin, Waitress, and Chicago. Deep down I really wanted to see Hamilton, but as a broke college student who recently started to make payments on their new car, Hamilton tickets were not even an idea. It really came down to what I could afford and what I would regret the most not seeing. So I chose Chicago. The ticket that I bought was relatively inexpensive since I sat in the far back of the theatre and would still have enough money left over for a commemorative t-shirt.

I was originally planning on going with one of my cousins that lives in New York, but her plans changed and I ended up going by myself. Some of you reading this are probably thinking, "aww that's so sad, going to the theatre by herself." Let me just squash that thought by saying how much I prefer going to things like that alone. I go to the movies alone more times than I go with someone else. That could be a whole other story on why I prefer my alone time, but in short: I'm an introvert. So I was fine seeing the musical by myself. My dad and I walked around Time Square before showtime. He dropped me off, and then we both went our separate ways for a few hours.

Like I said earlier, this was one of the smaller theaters on Broadway so it wasn't hard to find my seat. I bought my shirt before I went to my seat because I assumed there was going to be a line after the show. There wasn't, but I was still happy I got it earlier because then I could just leave after the show. My seat was literally four rows away from where the back wall of the theater was. Which was fine. I have great eyesight and I could see all of the stage clearly. That was until the large group of teenage girls sat directly in front of me and completely blocked my view of center stage.

During the first half of the musical, I was swaying side to side to get a view of the stage. I didn't want to yell at the girl and tell her to sit properly so the people behind her could see. Mainly because her mom was sitting next to her, and I didn't want that drama in the middle of the play. So during intermission, I moved seats. To my right, there were several empty rows of seats with no one for a few rows ahead of them so I thought "might as well." I made the decision to move because someone came and sat behind me about two songs into the music and started to complain that she couldn't see as well. So I took the liberty for both of us to have an experience and moved out of the way. The rest of the time was marvelous. I was able to see clearly. I sang along without having an older lady next to me judging my ability. It was fantastic.

The only thing that I wish would have happened, but I guess that only happens in lesser productions is when the audience gets to meet the cast and get an autograph. Of course, I didn't have a pen or sharpie with me so it was honestly for the best, but that would have been the cherry on top. Hopefully the next time I am in New York I have enough money to see another Broadway show. Maybe if I save up it could be Hamilton.

Related Content

Facebook Comments