Monday, November 05, 2018

The Thanksgiving Play

I see political correctness as largely a good thing. For me, it connotes trying to honor other people and their needs; calling people by their chosen names; respecting that people with different backgrounds have different experiences; and so on. On the other hand, political correctness can be taken waaay too far. Larissa FastHorse's wonderful new comedy, The Thanksgiving Play, takes place on the other hand.

Greg  Keller,  Jennifer  Bareilles, 
Jeffrey  Bean,  Margo  Seibert
Photo: Joan Marcus
Four people assemble to develop a thanksgiving play for an elementary school. They are to be the writers and the performers. Logan (Jennifer Bareilles) is the director. She works at the school, and the posters on the walls (the witty scenic design is by Wilson Chin) attest to her theatre tastes and values. Her boyfriend, Jaxton, self-righteously humble, is so thrilled to be involved that he is performing without pay. Caden (Jeffrey Bean), a history teacher and playwright wannabe, knows all about the truth of the "real Thanksgiving," which of course was not exactly full of turkeys, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and good will. The fourth writer/performer is Alicia (Margo Seibert), a well-known actress who has been promised a big paycheck. Logan and the others defer to her since she is Native American and therefore her opinions must come first.

FastHorse, ably abetted by director Moritz von Stuelpnagel, winds up these characters and lets them bump into each other. The results are hilarious, with pointed political humor and plain old silly comedy.

Margo  Seibert
Photo: Joan Marcus
The show is stolen by Seibert as Alicia, as it must be. In fact, anyone who doesn't steal the show with that plum of a role should be exiled from performance. Seibert luxuriates in the character, with wide-eyed self-confidence and joyous empty-headed-ness.

In a time period when a lot of liberal people are losing their senses of humor (not without reason), FastHorse's play is a real gift. Laughing at ourselves is important!

Wendy Caster
(fifth row, press ticket)
Show-Score: 90

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