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The Foreigner at Old Mill Theatre

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Wacky comedy exposes foolishness of life
The Foreigner, comedy, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, play, performing arts, humour, stage, award
The Foreigner features Joe Isaia, Jacqui Warner and Steven Ozanne.


Picture someone who's shy and doesn't like to meet people – and then imagine how that disadvantage might be turned into a side-splitting comedy. It's all part of Serial Productions' latest show The Foreigner, written by US playwright Larry Shue and directed by Rob Warner at the Old Mill Theatre.

Taking place in a fishing lodge in rural Georgia, Englishmen Froggy and Charlie arrive as guests – but Charlie is terribly shy, depressed about his wife's illness and cannot find the words to reply to people. "Froggy claims Charlie can't talk because he's a 'foreigner' from an exotic country and doesn't understand English," Rob said.

The Foreigner, comedy, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, play, performing arts, humour, stage, award
Betty Meeks (Jacqui Warner, left) and Froggy (Ray Egan) get their spoons on in The Foreigner.


"The guests take this explanation as fact and, as the play goes on, secrets are revealed to Charlie. Sometimes people do it on purpose and other times it's because Charlie happens to listen in on plans by nasty people. It all culminates in a hilarious climax and heart-warming ending."

The Foreigner has previously won two Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best New American Play and Best Off-Broadway Production. It's second-time around for Rob who made his directing debut with the comedy at Marloo Theatre in 2016, picking up the Yvonne Lynch Breakthrough Award, David Crewes Award for best set and nominations for best director and best play, at the annual Finley Awards.

The Foreigner, comedy, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, play, performing arts, humour, stage, award
Director Rob Warner, back right, with some of the cast of The Foreigner: Kylie Isaia, Jacqui Warner and Joe Isaia.


Joining Marloo Theatre in 1993, initially just to keep an eye on his kids, Rob has been involved ever since and has spent the past 12 years as president. He mainly works as a stage manager and has branched out with other companies including the Old Mill, KADS, Regal, Rechabites and Stirling Theatres and the Graduate Dramatic Society.

More recently, Rob directed a sell-out season of Wife After Death for Serial Productions at the Old Mill Theatre and The Anniversary for Marloo Theatre. "I enjoy doing comedy because I believe people want to go out and have a good laugh," he said.

The Foreigner, comedy, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, play, performing arts, humour, stage, award
Ellard (Steven Ozanne, left) tries to teach Charlie (Joe Isaia) to count.

"With The Foreigner, the main challenge is ensuring that audiences believe a person who is so quiet can change so much by taking on a different personality. It's also one of the few modern comedies that remains true to human nature despite its absurd excesses."

The Foreigner, comedy, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, play, performing arts, humour, stage, award
Ellard (Steven Ozanne, left) and Charlie (Joe Isaia) put their best foot forward in The Foreigner.


It's also a case of de ja vu for Joe Isaia when he becomes the shy, timid introvert Charlie for the second time in two years. "Charlie is dull and boring, as far as outside appearances go, until he discovers his real worth," he said. "My main challenge is keeping the role fresh and finding the right balance between the Charlie I played in 2016 at Marloo Theatre and the Charlie I'm playing in 2018. I just need to limit my expectations and trust the process."

Acting and directing for nearly 30 years, Joe made his debut with Limelight Theatre and has gone on to work with the Old Mill, KADS, Marloo and Garrick Theatres, Serial Productions and the Graduate Dramatic Society in shows such as Blackadder, Breaker Morant, The King and I, Death of a Salesman, The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband and Macbeth.

The Foreigner, comedy, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, play, performing arts, humour, stage, award
Reverend David Marshall Lee (Rodney van Groningen, left) finds himself in an explosive situation with Owen (Richard Hadler).

"The Foreigner was a huge success last time and the feedback from audiences was phenomenal," he said. "The opportunity to reprise a role that brought pleasure to so many people two years ago was irresistible."

The Foreigner plays at 8pm August 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18 with 2pm matinees August 5 and 12. Tickets are $25, $22 concession – book at www.trybooking.com/VELJ. On August 4, 50 per cent proceeds will go to the WA Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation. The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).

The Foreigner, comedy, Old Mill Theatre, Serial Productions, play, performing arts, humour, stage, award
Catherine Simms (Kylie Isaia, left) gets to the point with Reverend David Marshall Lee (Rodney van Groningen) in The Foreigner.
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Why? It’s a charming comedy about the magic of kindness while being outrageously funny at the same time.
When: 8pm August 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17 & 18; 2pm August 5 & 12
Where: Old Mill Theatre, Mends Street, South Perth
Cost: $25, $22 concession
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