We attended The Thanksgiving Play, written by Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse and it is a comic joy. It deliciously skewers liberal white political correctness. Four white actors flounder in their attempt to produce an unbiased retelling of Thanksgiving for the local elementary school, when they discover that their lodestone Native American actress is also white. Alicia had been playing, if unintentionally, in red face. From LA, she is good at ethnic and playin’.
Co-producers of this play-within-a-play are Logan and Caden. Director/actor Logan is hoping to overcome her past elementary school production’s failures, The Iceman Cometh and Titus Andronicus and the 300 parental petition signers that those productions spawned. Actor, partner, busker and guy not a vagrant, because he also has a day job, Caden, is well paired with Logan. In celebration for getting this gig, Caden gives Logan the perfect gift, a water-bottle, made of recycled glass, from the broken windows, of the local projects. Rounding out the cast as actor, writer and local teacher is Jaxton. He is kind of the odd man out in this production. All he wants is to hear his written words spoken by actors old enough to read three-syllable words. In this, he speaks to me as if the authoress.
This play was performed in the Rep’s basement black box Studio Theater, which has been newly dedicated to long time Rep director, Steven Wolff. We took our seats and awaited the performance, all the while a medley of Thanksgiving themed children’s songs played over the school’s PA. One of them, Five Little Turkeys, was echoed in the play, in a rap sendup, Four Little Turkeys. It should have been five, but the school’s budget could only afford four. After one, two, three, four little gunshots, four little turkeys were no more.
In the footsteps of older, more famous theatrical spoofs, such as The Producers, the comedy of The Thanksgiving Play holds up best when it has a melody to accomanpany it. The title alone of one of the previous FastHorse productions alludes to this, Teaching Disco Square Dancing to Our Elders. The best musical interlude in the play is a duet, between the two actresses. One dressed as a Native and the other as a Pilgrim. It is a medley of patriotic American standards that are only slightly tweaked for this performance, “This land is my land. This land was my land. This land is for me, not you.”